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Blues pivot Otere Black considering future with Beauden Barrett set for return

By Sam Smith
Otere Black. (Photo by Hannah Peters/Getty Images)

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If the Blues are able to retain all their players ahead of next season, they’ll enter 2022 with one of the best-stocked backlines in New Zealand.

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Finlay Christie and Sam Nock have forged a strong one-two halfback punch this year while Otere Black has continued to stamp his mark on the No 10 jersey.

TJ Faiane’s combination with Rieko Ioane has also developed well, when the former’s been fit, while the outside backs are as well stocked as ever with the likes of Caleb Clarke, Mark Telea and Bryce Heem all putting out solid performances in the wings and Zarn Sullivan developing into a lethal fullback.

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How can Richie Mo’unga wrestle the All Blacks No 10 jersey off Beauden Barrett once and for all?

Next year, they’ll also have access to Beauden Barrett and Kiwi league star Roger Tuivasa-Sheck.

That poses a problem for 26-year-old Black, however, who could suddenly find himself warming the bench for the Blues – if named in the match-day 23 at all.

Black has been one of the Auckland-based side’s best performers over the past two years after finally shaking free of his injury woes and may well be the third-best first five that New Zealand have in their stables right now.

The problem is that he’ll still be sitting behind the returning Barrett  – who’s suggested that he wants to focus his attentions on the No 10 jersey moving forward.

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With Black a specialist five-eighth, that could push him out of the startling line-up – something the former Hurricane is all too familiar with, having played second-fiddle to Barrett when the pair both represented the Hurricanes.

As such, Black has acknowledged that his future with the Blues and in New Zealand is up for discussion – at least once the Super Rugby Trans-Tasman season comes to a close.

“To be honest, I’m going through that at the moment,” Black told the New Zealand Herald. “I’m looking at options and we’ll see what happens over the next month.

“I’m pretty open to what’s our there but at the moment I’m solely focussed on the next three months.

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“All options will be something I’ll look at but I’ve left that to my management. I’ve told them I’ve got a couple of crucial weeks ahead of us and I don’t want to have that stuff pondering in the background.”

Black further acknowledged that any future decisions would be made with his young family in mind, having recently welcomed a new child into the fold.

At just 26 years of age, a move overseas would mark a somewhat premature end to Black’s career in New Zealand.

After first emerging as a potential superstar with the New Zealand Under 20 side in 2015, Black spent three seasons camped behind Barrett at the Hurricanes, managing 22 appearances for the Wellington franchise.

He shifted north to the Blues in 2019 but spent the entire year sidelined thanks to an ACL injury suffered during the prior year’s provincial season.

It was only last year that the Manawatu representative was finally able to stamp his mark on the Blues’ No 10 jersey and Black has looked like the best first five the Aucklanders have had at their disposal since the days of Carlos Spencer.

Barrett’s return to the team could quash any further development, however.

With Harry Plummer, Stephen Perofeta and Sullivan all capable of playing at first receiver, the Blues would certainly have a wealth of talent on hand to wear No 10 if they can retain Black’s services.

The Blues have two further round-robin games to play in Super Rugby Trans-Tasman and will line up against the Reds in Queensland on Friday night.

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Blues pivot Otere Black considering future with Beauden Barrett set for return

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