Hawke’s Bay Magpies and Maori All Blacks first five-eighths Ihaia West has been called into the Blues squad to replace the injured Baden Kerr who has been ruled out for the rest of the season.
After fracturing a bone at the base of his thumb in a pre-season match against the Hurricanes, 24-year-old Kerr then fractured two fingers playing rugby for his club side Karaka last month and was forced to have surgery, ruling him out of action for at least 12 weeks.
“It’s certainly really disappointing to be ruled out for the season,” Kerr said.
“But now the decision has been made I’ve just got to look at it positively, get in behind the boys and support them and make sure I can still be a positive contributor to the team,” he said.
As a result 22-year-old West, who spent a few weeks training with the Chiefs during the pre-season as injury cover, has been drafted into the Blues squad and arrived in Auckland earlier today.
“I’m really excited about getting this opportunity and I can’t wait to join the Blues for training,” West said.
“I’m looking forward to putting my head down, working really hard and hopefully if an opportunity to play arises I can take it with both hands.”
Blues head coach Sir John Kirwan said while he was disappointed to lose a player of Kerr’s quality, he welcomed the talented West to the fold.
“I’m really happy to have Ihaia involved. We looked at him long and hard pre-season and he was very much part of our thoughts,” Kirwan said.
“We just decided to go internally a little bit more with what we had in picking Simon Hickey, so with Baden unfortunately dropping out it’s great for us to have Ihaia in and he’s here for the rest of the season and we’re excited about it.
“He’s a naturally attacking 10 and he brings a bit of X-factor so that excites me. I think he can bring another dimension to the game.”