A year after leaving La Rochelle for Toulon, New Zealand opening half Ihaia West is returning to the Maritimes this summer.
Toulon will remain a parenthesis for Ihaia West. Arrived in the French championship in 2018 in La Rochelle after having exploded at the highest level with the Hurricanes, the native of Havelock North had decided last year to try the adventure on the Rade. At the RCT, the one who wore the Maori All Blacks jersey ten times played 28 games, including ten as a starter, during a season that saw him complete his record with the Challenge Cup won against Glasgow Warriors, following the Champions Cup won last season against Leinster with Stade Rochelais.
However, with only two tries and an efficiency on foot far from meeting expectations at the start of the season, Toulon leaders seized the opportunity to lure Welsh international Dan Biggar last fall. This arrival drastically reduced Ihaia West’s playing time.
— Stade Rochelais (@staderochelais) July 22, 2023
West intends to find playing time
The New Zealander only regained his starting stripes during the duplicates linked to the 6 Nations Tournament and then at the end of the Top 14 season with limited stakes for the Rouge-et-Noir. With a transplant that did not take as well as expected, Ihaia West opened the door to a departure from Toulon this summer and, after several weeks of rumours, the information was made official this Saturday. After four seasons, 95 games including 82 as starters and 866 points scored in the colors of La Rochelle, the 31-year-old opening half will indeed return to Stade Marcel-Deflandre next season.
« The opening half has chosen to retrace his steps, where he feels good, with always the same desire: that of expanding his trophy cabinet “Said Stade Rochelais in its press release. While Pierre Popelin and Harry Glynn will leave the Charente this summer, Ihaia West joins Antoine Hastoy and the promising Hugo Reus, recent U20 world champion with the France team, under the orders of Ronan O’Gara.