1. Super Rugby style of play
Blade has a very impressive highlight reel which displays his exciting attacking skills. Slick offloading, powerful running, athleticism and fierce tackling are all just a few of his superb talents. There’s no doubt southern hemisphere rugby is ruling the way when it comes to fast paced games and X-Factor style players. His super rugby experience will suit Wayne PIvac’s game plan perfectly and is a key reason why I believe Blade will be a huge star at Scarlets next season.
2. Top level experience
At 27 years of age, Blade comes to the PRO 14 at the perfect stage of his career. With caps for the Baby Blacks and Maori All Blacks, it’s obvious that the kiwi coaches think very highly of him. He’s played alongside superstars such as Julian Savea, Dane Coles, Nehe Milner-Skudder and a certain Beauden Barrett in his time at Hurricanes, which isn’t a bad place to learn his trade. This top level experience will be very advantageous when he arrives in Wales.
3. Utility player
Blade has the ability to feature at lock, flanker and number 8 – very much similar to Munster-bound Tadhg Berine who has been the standout player in the league this season. He has big boots to fill, but with Pivac as his coach, I’m confident he will step up to the mark and become a key player for Scarlets. His ability to cover more than one position speaks volumes of his talents and skillset, as well as being a great benefit to selections over the international window.
4. History of winning trophies
Auckland-born Blade already has a glamorous trophy cabinet with 1x Junior World Cup medal, 2x NZ Conference Champions medals and a Super Rugby Championship winner’s medal. With a history of winning titles and experience in big games, there’s no surprise Pivac was so keen to bring the talented forward to the club.
5. International ambitions
Through his Scottish grandparents, Blade is eligible for selection by Gregor Townsend and would join fellow Kiwi John Hardie in the squad if he was to accept. Of course, he has to prove his worth before thinking about an international call up – which is a great motivator for him to continue his good form. That’s what makes his move the perfect opportunity for his international ambitions.