Midfield and utility back Matt Vaega has officially signed with the Blues for the 2016 season. This will mark the second year the 21-year-old has made the Blues Wider Training Group, with his 2015 selection coming off the back of a break-out 2014 season for North Harbour.
The former Kelston Boys High School student came in to the Blues as a temporary replacement for one month at the end of 2015 and impressed Skills/Backs coach Paul Feeney and the wider coaching staff with his work ethic and utility value.
“Matt impressed us with his skill set and attitude,” said Paul. “He then followed this up with a strong showing against the Hurricanes last week.”
Matt also boasts a strong rugby heritage. His father is 61-cap Samoan international and former Blues player To’o Vaega. Matt and To’o became the first father-son duo to play for the Blues in 2015 when Matt played the Crusaders. His younger brother TJ has been part of the Blues Under 18s for two years and was recently named in the Blues Under 20s, while his older brother Cardiff has played for the Hurricanes.
Matt will be replacing TJ Faiane who has ruptured his ACL and will remain in the Blues environment to optimise his strength training before surgery. The coaching staff expects TJ to make a full recovery for playing in 2017.
In other injury updates, first five Piers Francis has returned to training following an ankle sprain during the Blues v Rebels match on February 4. He will not be eligible for Friday’s match against the Chiefs.