Lock was thinking of finding engineering work before call from Kirwan

Rugby nomad Hayden Triggs was looking for a new job away from the game when he received the SOS call from Blues coach Sir John Kirwan.

A diesel mechanic who was playing for Honda Heat in Suzuka, Japan, lock Triggs was beginning to search for a job as an engineer. After three years playing for a struggling team a long way from home, Triggs had just about had enough.

"It's a bit of a mental challenge," he said. "My team didn't do very well over there. The first year we were in the top league, then we were demoted and the last two years we've been battling for promotion.

"I've had a bit of time over the last few years to think about what I want to do after footy and that was all coming to a head.


"It's exciting [now], it's awesome to be home, that's for sure. It feels like the last three years have dragged past and the last two weeks have been a blur."

Originally from Palmerston North, Triggs, who made his Super Rugby debut in 2007 for the Hurricanes, has also played for the Chiefs and Highlanders. He was planning to return to Manawatu but now has found a house in Auckland and will be joined by his wife and two young children shortly.

For him, trying to fit into a new environment is nothing new. In fact, the 2.01m Triggs, who turns 32 today, said it was an important skill for a professional rugby player.

"Adaptability is something they talk about a lot these days. To find your niche in the team, who you can push the boundaries with and who you can relax a bit more around, for me I find it quite easy. I've been exposed to Southlanders, to people from the top of the North Island, to Japanese, and people all over the world. It's a skill and a challenge.

"I know other environments, I know what their mentalities are, and hopefully I can add that [knowledge] to this squad."

That travelling lifestyle means Donnelly saw many familiar faces on his first day at Blues training this week. He has played with fellow lock Tom Donnelly and first-five Chris Noakes at the Highlanders and halfback Piri Weepu and midfielder Ma'a Nonu at the Hurricanes.

"My wife asked me when we first went to Japan [in 2010] would I come back and play Super Rugby and I was like 'hell no, no way'. But after being away from it and seeing what I was missing ... Then when JK gave me the call, I jumped at the chance."

Culum Retallick's season-ending knee injury prompted that call. Now Triggs is poised to fulfil an important role alongside senior operators Donnelly and Liaki Moli and 21-year-old Patrick Tuipulotu.

"JK alluded to that [importance] when we started to speak about things - that I wasn't just here to make up the numbers. I take it as a good challenge. Obviously [Donnelly] is running the cutter at the moment but I can give him feedback and I'm quite comfortable talking to him."

Highlanders v Blues

Forsyth Barr Stadium, 7:35 tonight

Highlanders: Ben Smith, Richard Buckman, Malakai Fekitoa, Shaun Treeby, Patrick Osborne, Lima Sopoaga, Aaron Smith, Nasi Manu (c), Shane Christie, Gareth Evans, Jarrad Hoeata, Brad Thorn, Chris King, Liam Coltman, Kane Hames
Reserves: Ged Robinson, Matias Diaz, Craig Millar, Josh Bekhuis, TJ Ioane, Fumiaki Tanaka, Hayden Parker, Phil Burleigh.

Blues: Charles Piutau, Frank Halai, Jackson Willison, Francis Saili, George Moala, Chris Noakes, Piri Weepu, Peter Saili, Luke Braid (c), Steven Luatua, Tom Donnelly, Liaki Moli, Charlie Faumuina, James Parsons, Ofa Tu'ungafasi
Reserves: Tom McCartney, Sam Prattley, Angus Ta'avao, Patrick Tuipulotu, Brendon O'Connor, Bryn Hall, Benji Marshall, Tevita Li.