Opinion: Going to the Blues will kill Otere Black's career

Otere Black
Otere Black for the Hurricanes last night (Photosport)

OPINION: With Beauden Barrett starting at the back for the Hurricanes against the Cheetahs on Saturday, we saw Otere Black step up in the 10 jersey and run things for a change.

While he didn't set the world alight, he offered the kind of solidity teams need at 10, the kind of solidity that's seen him linked with a move north to the Blues for next season.

But why the Blues when the Chiefs are looking worryingly thin at first five eighth, particularly with Aaron Cruden off to Montpellier at season's end?

The supposed heir-apparent Damian McKenzie has been billed as Cruden's replacement but he's no sure thing.

He's a great counter-attacker and a very good runner, but his decision-making has yet to be really put to the test. There's also still a small matter of his size which makes him vulnerable in the tight channels and on defence.

With the best chances of him continuing his All Black career coming out wide or at the back, you'd also expect him to be hesitant for a move to 10.

Stephen Donald of course can fill in from time to time, but he's 33-years-old and not getting any younger. His raw pace is long gone and though he is wily with more than a few tricks up his sleeve, a full-time career as a fisherman is on the horizon.

With two championships and three finals appearances in five years, the fact they're a winning franchise would also make the Chiefs more of an enticing option for Black.

Stephen Donald Damian McKenzie
Stephen Donald and Damian McKenzie (Photosport)

Yes they're set to lose their coach as well as the core of their backline with Tawera Kerr-Barlow, Cruden and James Lowe heading north, but being at the centre of a backline rebuild under a dynasty-like Chiefs back-room would surely be the cherry on top for the 22-year-old Black.

Conversely, after a season that will yet again fail to materialise in a finals appearance for the Blues, a move to Auckland comes with a lot of pressure. There's every chance 2018 could be Tana Umaga's last at the helm should they miss the playoffs and there's no way that would be a good environment to play under, particularly for a player at such a key stage of their development.

Couple this with the fact that the team does not have a good track record in developing quality first fives and it'd be even more of a pressure cooker situation for Black.

The upside of a move to the Blues is that they would enjoy the luxury of playing with the likes of Sonny Bill Williams, George Moala and Rieko Ioane outside them.

But even then, it's a mighty big ship to steer, particularly when you're joining mid-journey and used to the calm waters of a Hurricanes backline.

The Blues have shown time and time again it's where first five's careers go to die.

Matt Tewhatu is a sports producer for Newshub.