The 2014 Super Rugby squads are being named soon, but there has been plenty of action on the transfer market. Sonny Bill Williams has reportedly signed for the Chiefs, but rumour has it that the talented Ihaia West who has been a star for Hawke’s Bay in the ITM Cup Championship has signed for the Melbourne Rebels.
Six reasons why Ihaia West has signed for the Rebels.
1) The Melbourne Rebels has been given heaps of money from the Australian Rugby Union to pay for players in order to make them competitive.
2) There is a shortage of depth in the Rebels and Australia in some positions, especially at first five eighth.
3) West’s Hawke’s Bay team mates like Telusa Veainu has signed with the Rebels along with Tamati Ellison from the Highlanders and Jason Woodward from Wellington. Ged Robinson from Hawke’s Bay has been playing with the Rebels over the past few seasons. There are several other players from teams like Hawke’s Bay who have decided to go to Australia since they can’t get contracts in New Zealand.
4) The Melbourne Rebels have lost their star duo of Kurtley Beale and James O’Connor. It makes sense for West to head for the Rebels because the Melbourne based franchise and Australian rugby in general is lacking depth in certain positions and first five eighth is one of them.
5) The Hurricanes tend to snub players from Hawke’s Bay, Manawatu and Taranaki. That is why Taranaki seems to have a relationship with the Chiefs and why Manawatu had plenty of players at the Highlanders. It seems stupid given the quality of players the Hurricanes let go.
6) The Hurricanes have signed Tasman first five eighth Marty Banks. This means that most New Zealand franchises are full. The Highlanders look likely to sign the steady but experienced Willie Ripia. West’s best chance to stay in New Zealand is with the Chiefs behind Aaron Cruden or the Blues.
There are plenty of other big selections with Benji Marshall going to the Blues, while there are plenty of Tasman players who got contracts with the Chiefs. The Highlanders have lost their two best props, but recruited an Argentina prop, but Jamie Mackintosh gets the best deal likely to get more time for the top ranking Chiefs team instead of warming the bench for the Highlanders. Who knows where Ma’a Nonu will end up?
I really want to see Ihaia West stay in New Zealand, even if it isn’t my team, the Highlanders, but heading to the Melbourne Rebels would get him more game time than riding the pine behind a more established player like Beauden Barrett or Aaron Cruden. Mind you, you don’t want to ruin him by throwing him in the deep end!
It will be interesting to see the final New Zealand Super Rugby 2014 squads. There is heaps of depth in some positions like first five eighth, halfback, fullback, wing, blindside and openside flankers and props but New Zealand seems to be lacking quality centres, Number Eights and hookers.
Who are you picking to be named in your Super Rugby team? Where should SBW and Ihaia West play next season?