From the unlikeliest beginnings often come the best stories in the world of professional sport. Bryn Gatland hopes that will be his fate now he has been called into the Blues squad as injury cover for Ihaia West who has been ruled out of action for four weeks with a damaged ankle.

A door that appeared shut is now open for Gatland and he could, if the cards fall well for him, play his way into the Blues squad for 2018. The Blues first choice No 10 Piers Francis is leaving at the end of the season and West is struggling to convince that he has the overall control the Blues are looking for.

The emerging Stephen Perofeta continues to be plagued by a niggly injury and therefore hasn't played at this level yet and the Blues, once again, don't have any certainty about who their leading playmaker will be next year.

Gatland, despite initially being overlooked by the Blues when they didn't select him in their full squad for this campaign, is now a good outside bet to force his way into the club's longer term plans. He's likely to feature, to some extent, in the next few weeks - a period in which he could persuade the Blues that he's worth more investment.


His cool head and strong kicking game are high value skills and Gatland had a case to feel a little hard done by at the end of last year when he was unwanted by any New Zealand franchise. The 21-year-old played a huge role in helping North Harbour win the Mitre 10 Cup Championship and his composed decision making and accurate goalkicking looked to be at a level where he could expect to make the breakthrough into the professional ranks.

But he was passed over, not offered a full time contract by any New Zealand side and instead had to settle for being a part timer with the Blues. He's been with the Crusaders for the last two weeks - training with them while Richie Mo'unga recovers from a hand injury, but his recall to Auckland comes with the genuine possibility of winning game time.

It is probable that Gatland will be named on the bench to play the Highlanders this Saturday and his calm demeanour and proven ability to slot pressure goals could see him enter the fray in the final quarter if the game is close. That's what he's hoping - just the smallest chance to prove he is good enough to handle Super Rugby.

Coincidentally, it was through a similar route that West managed to battle his way to a Super Rugby contract in 2015. Like Gatland, West had been overlooked after an impressive provincial campaign with Hawke's Bay in 2013. He was called up as injury cover first by the Chiefs - but didn't play - and then by the Blues later in the season. Sent out from the bench, he played well in his cameo appearances to the extent he became the club's first choice No 10 and earned a full-time contract for the following season.

"It is a bit strange being flown all over the country," says Gatland. "It is tough being an injury replacement as you don't have any certainty or stability. One minute you are in, the next you are out.

"If I get a chance to get on the field I'll do what I can to put my best foot forward. You see it all the time, someone gets a little bit of an opportunity, they do well and it al works out for them."