Blues go All ‘Blackie’ as cover for Braid


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Auckland’s Blues have turned to Japan for cover for their loose forward problem after Daniel Braid announced that he was leaving New Zealand to play for the Reds in Queensland.

Former Highlanders and Otago captain Josh Blackie has signed a two-year contract with the New Zealand Rugby Union and the Auckland Rugby Union and will be available for selection for the Blues squad for 2009.

Blackie is currently playing for Kobe Steel in Japan and his return will be a relief to new Blues coach Pat Lam as he looks to rebuild a side that has lost a huge number of players from 2008.

Twenty Nine year old Blackie is one of New Zealand’s leading flankers and a highly regarded professional player.

He played 55 games for the Highlanders and 73 for Otago before heading to Japan at the end of last year’s Super 14 competition.

NZRU CEO Steve Tew told Stuff that the return of Blackie was fantastic news for New Zealand rugby.

“As New Zealand rugby fans know, Josh is an outstanding rugby player and his return will certainly provide a boost for the Blues and Auckland ‘ and for New Zealand rugby overall,” he said.

“It is heartening that a player like Josh is keen to return after his time and experience in Japan.”

Blackie’s agent Warren Alcock said that Blackie was excited to be coming back to New Zealand and was keen to make the most of his opportunities in the Super 14.

“Whilst he previously played all his rugby for Otago and the Highlanders he has opted to return to Auckland because that is where he grew up and he still has family there.

“Daniel Braid’s recent announcement has also clearly made the decision to return to Auckland easier.”

Blackie will return to New Zealand early next year once the Japanese season has finished.

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