Blues flyhalf Otere Black has signed for the Bay of Plenty Steamers ahead of the 2020 Mitre 10 Cup.
The 25-year-old had a stellar Super Rugby Aotearoa season with the Blues and despite the fact he is competing with a current and a former All Blacks first-five; Beauden Barrett and Daniel Carter, Black’s form has justifiably kept him in the starting 15.
Black says becoming a first-time dad and getting to be near his whānau was a major reason for signing with the Bay.
“We have a home here in Rotorua now and making sure my family could come and watch me play was a big factor.
“My mum and dad have been huge supporters for us growing up and they always try to come and watch us play.
“It’s also a good opportunity to give back to my family and my people here in the Eastern Bay.”
Growing up in the Eastern Bay of Plenty town of Ruatoki, meant Black had an active upbringing.
“It’s a bit different to nowadays with technology with iPads and movies and things like that. We never really had that back in the day.
“So, we would always head out and find things to do. Like eeling, fishing and all that sort of stuff. We were just real outdoor kids.
The 25-year-old’s passion for rugby was born on the backyard playing fields of Ruatoki.
“Especially at the marae, there was always a rugby ball around and we would always play rugby or touch.
“They all get into the sports and everyone gets behind the local team. They really enjoy their sport there.”
Playing professional rugby was a dream for Black.
“It was something I wanted to do, but for some reason I didn’t think I’d get to do it, especially being a young Māori boy growing up. I never thought I’d get to where I am now.”
Black says part of the reason the Blues have done well this season is through the club’s culture.
“I think it’s definitely played a part in coming together as a group and having a good culture within the club.
“Obviously, there is a lot of us who come from a cultural background, we have a few Islander boys and a few Māori boys and we all sort of try to connect on and off the field.”
Black says he is looking forward to joining the Steamers.
Bay of Plenty Steamers coach Clayton McMillan says securing Black’s services for the Mitre 10 Cup would add another element to the team.
“He is a pretty quiet humble sort of guy, but one who brings a lot of experience and that’s going to be beneficial to us.
“The fact he is from Ruatoki and is familiar with the Bay of Plenty region is icing on the cake.”
McMillan says Black will be a great addition to the Steamers this season with the side’s elevation to the Mitre 10 Cup Premier Championship.
“He brings a slightly different style to the table. I see Otere’s strengths being his technical and tactical appreciation for the game. He understands how to put players in space and drive a team around the field. We have some exciting firepower in our backs so creating opportunities for them to shine will be a big part of our plans”.
“Otere knows we’ve got some young talented players, including two very able first-fives in Dan Hollinshead and Kaleb Trask. That level of depth and quality in a game driver role will generate some internal competition for places, and ensure we are adequately covered positionally to meet the challenges of competing in the Premiership.
Bay of Plenty Rugby chief executive Mike Rogers says its great to have Black playing for the Bay.
“You hear the cliché around role models. But I think we’ve got some fantastic young male and female talent in the Eastern Bay and right throughout the region.
“I think having Otere back in the Bay and just the way he’s been able to forge a career in rugby is a great example for our young people.
Māori make up nearly 30 per cent of rugby players nationally and Rogers says having players like Black is a great influence for rangatahi (young people).
“From a Bay of Plenty point of view having Otere and Te Toiroa Tahuriorangi involved on and off the field creates a really special opportunity.
“To have guys like them involved in our game here in the Bay will definitely help inspire our young Māori male and female players.”