Wellington based Super Rugby champions the Hurricanes have signed Hawke’s Bay first five Ihaia West on a one year deal from the Blues in Auckland.
The 25-year-old will join club for the 2018 season in what will be a home coming of sorts for the former Napier Boys High School star.
West was a Hurricanes Development player in 2014 and has been a regular match winner for the Hawke’s Bay Magpies over recent seasons with his sharp running game and reliable goal kicking.
After four seasons and 43 appearances with the Blues he brings considerable Super Rugby experience to the Hurricanes where he will be coached by his former New Zealand Under 20s coach Chris Boyd.
“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.
“I am looking forward to joining the Hurricanes environment and playing for a team that is close to me being from Hawkes Bay. I’m excited to see what next season holds.
“I’ve enjoyed my time with the Blues and want to thank the boys and the coaches for the experiences and making my time there enjoyable.”
Hurricanes head coach Boyd said he was looking forward to working with West again.
“Ihaia has always been a very talented player. I enjoyed coaching him in the New Zealand Under 20s back in 2012 and since then he’s built up a lot of experience with Hawke’s Bay, the Blues and also the Maori All Blacks.
“We all saw what he is capable with ball in hand when he scored the match winning try for the Blues against The British & Irish Lions recently and we’re looking forward to similar highlights in a Hurricanes jersey.”
West’s signing comes as another Hurricanes first five Otere Black leaves the club.
“Otere has been a real professional on and off the field and everyone at the Hurricanes wishes him all the best with the next chapter of his career,” Boyd said.
Black, who has represented the Hurricanes 19 times since 2015, has signed with the Blues through until 2019.
“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. I owe the coaching group, the players and the staff a great deal.”
Province: Hawkes Bay
National honours: Maori All Blacks, New Zealand Sevens, New Zealand U20s.