Patrick McKendry is a rugby and boxing writer for the Herald.

Rugby: Reject West set to make life hard for old franchise

John Kirwan is impressed with West is his calmness under fire. Photo / Getty Images
John Kirwan is impressed with West is his calmness under fire. Photo / Getty Images

Thought worthy of only a couple of games for the Hurricanes development team this season, Ihaia West could help the Blues pose a few problems against the franchise that didn't want him.

The 22-year-old, as widely predicted, will start at No10 for John Kirwan's team against a Hurricanes side with big hopes of making the playoffs for the first time since 2009.

With only three matches to come thanks to their last-round bye, the Hurricanes will be desperate for competition points at Eden Park tomorrow night after a standout performance against the Chiefs.

The Blues, on the other hand, have little to play for in terms of the competition, but they have played well at their headquarters this season and, with the attacking West at the helm, could well throw a spanner in Canes' coach Mark Hammett's works.

West is seen by Kirwan as a player on the rise. Simon Hickey, whom West has replaced, is also seen as someone with a big future at the Blues, but the 20-year-old hasn't progressed quite as the franchise would have liked after a promising start.

He is reliable and a good goalkicker, but hasn't developed his running game.

West's goalkicking after replacing Hickey in the defeat to the Sharks at Albany proved to Kirwan that he deserved his first start after joining the squad as a replacement for the injured Baden Kerr.

"What we've been impressed with is his calmness under fire,"said Kirwan of the 22-year-old West.

West will ease the pressure on Ma'a Nonu as the sole provider of momentum among the backline and his match-up against Beauden Barrett will be intriguing.

"He's probably the No1 10 going around New Zealand at the moment so it will be good to come up against him and test myself against the best," West said.

"I managed to be in the right place at the right time and get a cheeky dot," he said of the rout of the Reds. "That was an awesome game to be a part of. We really went well that day."

- NZ Herald

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