Black a cool kid under pressure

Turbos first five-eighth Otere Black in training.
Turbos first five-eighth Otere Black in training.

New Manawatu first five-eighth Otere Black can trace his calmness to his genetics.

"I don't really get too nervous," he said, reflecting on his calm performance in scoring 22 points in Manawatu's 27-21 win over Wellington last Friday, kicking six from seven.

The son of former Massey University professor, Taiarahia Black, Otere said his mother, Shelley, never gets flustered either.

Although Palmerston North born, Otere has two homes. The most fluent Te Reo speaker in the Turbos, his other home is Ruatoki near Whakatane, where the family holidays each year, and he has proud Tuhoe bloodlines.

‘That's where I get a bit of ticker," he chuckles. "We get a lot of support from back home."

Tuhoe is Bay of Plenty territory and Black has retained his No 10 spot to play against them tomorrow night.

He has read much of the hoopla on social media about his play at Wellington and is trying hard to ignore it.

"I try not to read into it too much. The team has just got to keep winning."

Black's breaks set up both Turbos' tries on Friday, and in the first he seemed to hesitate with the line open.

"I saw them marking up on the outside. I heard Jamie Booth screaming at me for the ball - and then he was telling me to go for it."

Black turned 19 in May and is still growing. He weighs 86kg and is tall for a first-five at 1.84m. When he left Tu Toa, he weighed just 70kg, so Turbos trainer Scott Pinfold put him in the gym.

In his four years at Hato Paora College he was a second five-eighth until Tu Toa coach Reuben Parkinson saw him as a No 10.

From Tu Toa he was selected for the New Zealand Barbarians Schools team, essentially NZ B.

When playing for them he was spotted by the Western Force in Perth and when he left Tu Toa Auckland were keen to sign him.

"I always wanted to stay around here," he said. "It's where I grew up, watching the Turbos, so there was no need to go to a bigger union."

Until the Turbos campaign started, he was 18 months into a Massey University Maori studies degree, which he has parked for now.

Last year he was called in late for the New Zealand under-20s trial at Massey. He knows next year is his big chance for that.

"That's the one that's in my sights. I can't get too comfortable. I've got a few things to work on."

He has played touch to a national level, but will play it only socially to keep his skills up over summer.

Black began rugby as a 5-year-old with Kia Toa, until he was 13. When he left Tu Toa, the other Turbos first-five, Jade Te Rure, was at Kias, so College Old Boys picked up Black.

He believes there is a correlation between golf and goal-kicking. He was a 6-handicapper at golf at Hokowhitu and his goal-kicking percentage must be in the high 80s.

He cramped up while kicking at Wellington because it was his first 80-minute game since the club final, but still knocked over the kicks.

Since his family went back to Whakatane, Black has been flatting with his partner, leading Manawatu netballer Renee Te Riini, and his brother Hona.

With the hamstring injury to No 8 James Oliver, College Old Boys' loose forward Brice Henderson was yesterday brought in from the Development XV.

Halfback Jamie Booth's exploits at Wellington have earned him his first start tomorrow against Bay of Plenty.

Lock Fraser Stone's hard work has rewarded him and there are two locks in the reserves, the 2.03m Tom Hughes, who has yet to play for the Turbos, and Keepa Mewett. Otherwise it is largely the same team which beat Wellington.


Manawatu team to play Bay of Plenty: 15 Nehe Milner-Skudder, 14 Newton Tudreu, 13 Jason Emery, 12 Hamish Northcott, 11 Nathan Tudreu, 10 Otere Black, 9 Jamie Booth, 8 Antonio Kiri Kiri, 7 Callum Gibbins (captain), 6 Heiden Bedwell-Curtis, 5 Fraser Stone, 4 Nick Crosswell, 3 Ma'afu Fia, 2 Rob Foreman, 1 Chris Eves. Reserves: Nick Grogan, 17 Hubert Buydens, 18 Keepa Mewett, 19 Tom Hughes, 20 Kayne Hammington, 21 Jade Te Rure, 22 Jaxon Tagavaitau. 

Manawatu Standard