WELLINGTON (Reuters) - Ihaia West, who scored a brilliant try to defeat the British and Irish Lions earlier this month, will leave the Auckland Blues for the Wellington Hurricanes next season after the Super Rugby sides swapped reserve flyhalves.
West showcased his blistering pace when he came on as a replacement to secure the match-winning try for the Blues late in the match at Eden Park on June 7.
The 25-year-old looks destined to spend plenty more time on the bench at the Hurricanes with All Blacks flyhalf and reigning World Player of the Year Beauden Barrett ahead of him in the pecking order.
Barrett’s current understudy Otere Black, meanwhile, is heading north to the Blues, who have also recruited Bryn Gatland, the son of Lions coach Warren, on a permanent contract after he was brought in this season as injury cover.
Black’s move had been expected after Piers Francis decided to move back to England with Northampton Saints, clearing the way for the 22-year-old to bid for starting spot in Auckland under coach Tana Umaga.
“It was a hard decision for me to decide to leave the Hurricanes,” Black said.
”The team has been a big part of my life and has shaped me to be who I am today as a player.
“There are no guarantees but I hope to make the Blues 10 jumper my own and I am looking forward to all the challenges that come with that.”
West joined the Blues in 2014 and appeared 43 times for the franchise but had fallen out of favour this season with Francis preferred as the starter and 20-year-old Stephen Perofeta being groomed as a longer-term option.
“I have decided it’s time for a new challenge and thanks to the Hurricanes management I have the opportunity to be involved with a strong and successful team,” West said.
Reporting by Greg Stutchbury; Editing by Nick Mulvenney