Super Rugby Pacific: Blues debut works out perfectly for rookie lock Josh Beehre at Whangarei

As far as professional debuts go, young Blues lock Josh Beehre admits his could not have been planned better.

The rookie second-rower has been named for his first professional outing on Saturday against Fijian Drua, running out on his homeground of Semenoff Stadium, Whangārei.

Family and friends are already queuing up for tickets to the fixture, which has allowed Beehre's parents to fulfill a promise they made to their son when he was elevated to the Blues squad this season.

Josh Beehre in pre-season action for the Blues.
Josh Beehre in pre-season action for the Blues. Photo credit: Getty Images

"They're excited," he confirmed. "I gave them a call Tuesday night and they were over the moon.

"Mum said she was committed to come and watch my debut, so it's easy when it's in Whangarei - that's only a 20-minute drive for us. No excuses if she's not there."

Certainly more convenient than a Perth debut against Western Force, for example.

Beehre, 21, hails from the small town of Hūkerenui, 30km north of Whangārei, and attended Whangārei Boys High School, before a year at Hastings Boys High.

He arrives at the Blues by way of the Auckland NPC team and NZ U20 programme, just in time to step into the shoes of injured All Blacks lock and Blues captain Patrick Tuipulotu, who broke his jaw during their pre-season tour to Japan. He forms a raw locking combination with Sam Darry, 22.

"Definitely eye-opening, but loving it," he related. "Pretty cool having boys like Patty and Akira [Ioane] and Sam Darry, I feel like they've taken me under their wing.

"I'm just learning everyday, trying to get better everyday... just trying to take all the opportunities I get. Even after a couple of months, it still feels a bit surreal, but I'm sure, once that whistle blows, it will just feel like another game.

"The Drua, it will be pretty special playing them. Some good power athletes and great skills, so I'm excited to test myself against them.

"We have some pretty physical trainings and I feel like that's prepared me well. I guess we'll find out on Saturday, if it hasn't."

Beehre isn't overawed by the occasion and anticipates a very simple approach against the Drua.

"That's the blessing of playing in such a strong team," he said. "Players like Mark Tele'a and the outsides we have, you don't need to overplay your hand.

"I'll just be cleaning rucks, carrying and doing my lineouts, and I feel like the rest will take care of itself."

New Blues coach Vern Cotter is impressed with what he's seen of Beehre so far.

"He's the type of forward we like," he observed. "He pushes hard in the scrums, works hard in all those dark places we talk about, which he's very good at.

"He can defend in close, he covers ground and he's got a good carry on him... and he's only a boy. He's done enough to earn a start in this game, he complements Sam Darry, so we're really excited to see how he goes."

Join Newshub at 4:30pm Saturday for live updates of the Blues v Fijian Drua Super Rugby Pacific clash