Former Chiefs wing Bryce Heem has joined the Blues for the 2021 Super Rugby Aotearoa season, taking the final spot on the Auckland franchise’s roster.
It comes after the 32-year-old returned to New Zealand from France, where he had been playing for Toulon since 2019, due to family reasons last month.
Heem takes the place of Argentine midfielder Santiago Chocobares, who was due to join the Blues this year, but he and the club weren’t able to finalise a deal in time for the start of the season.
“We were looking forward to Santiago joining us but it proved too difficult to get him here,” Blues head coach Leon MacDonald said.
“Bryce is a quality player and a quality bloke who has been an excellent overseas professional in Europe. He will be invaluable asset for us this season.
“He played centre and wing for us at Tasman and was superb both on and off the field. His sevens background means his work rate is excellent and he’s very quick and a big body. His recent form in France was impressive.”
Having started out his professional career with Auckland, Heem also played for Northland and Tasman in the Mitre 10 Cup over six seasons, and won a Super Rugby contract with the Chiefs in his final year in New Zealand in 2015.
During that same time, he featured regularly for the All Blacks Sevens between 2011 and 2014, claiming three World Sevens Series titles and a 2014 Commonwealth Games silver medal.
Heem moved to England at the end of 2015 to join Premiership club Worcester Warriors, where he scored 32 tries in 70 matches, before joining Toulon two years ago.
It was in the south of France where he scored six tries in 25 outings.
Heem’s arrival at the Blues provides the side with depth and experience, especially with fellow wing Jone Macilai-Tori out for the season after he fractured his radius while playing against the Hurricanes in last weekend’s game-of-three-halves in Upper Hutt.
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