Blues 'rookie' excited by unexpected chance late in his career

By James Perry

By day Jordan Hyland is a managing director of Apex Recruitment on Auckland's North Shore. By the end of this month, he'll be twice as busy when he begins pre-season training with the Blues.

The 30-year-old is one of 46 "rookies" named in the Super Rugby squads for next season.

He is excited to continue his late-career surge which has seen him break into the Māori All Blacks this year as well. 

Hyland says his selection to the Blues full-time squad for the first time has come as a very happy rude-awakening, "you like to keep yourself in good nick but it kind of gives you a bit of a wake up call saying 'jeez, I've got pre-season coming up,' so you want to keep yourself in pretty good nick so, yeah I'm looking forward to it mate." 

Becoming one of eight new additions to the Auckland based franchise caps off a huge year for Hyland. He was called into the Highlanders squad as injury cover midway through the season, and was included in Clayton McMillan's Māori All Black squad for their two-match series against Fiji, coming off the bench in Suva, and earning a start in the return match in Rotorua. He also had another strong season with the Northland Taniwhā in the Mitre 10 Cup.

Just last week he welcomed his son Hendricks into the world, "I also got married in that year as well, it's probably one of the best years of my life that's for sure. I've planned a few of those that happened, obviously like the baby and marriage and stuff, and obviously the Tanis, but the other ones are a hell of a bonus," he says.

Hyland has played seven games for the Blues and the Highlanders as injury cover, where he's picked up 3 tries, but is still considered a rookie by New Zealand Rugby definition. 

Blues coach Leon MacDonald however, believes the qualified drain-layer has a lot to offer, on and off the field.

"His life's in order, and he brings a different perspective to our group.

"When we've got a group of young exciting wingers to have the sort of old dad in there who's been around a little bit and probably brings a bit of the 'appreciate what you've got guys, cause it doesn't take long before it's gone' and I think he'll bring a little bit of that.

"He's going to make sure he does everything he can to make the most of the opportunity. That's what excited us about Jordy, he just doesn't let anybody down."

Hyland, whose company provides workers to the civil and construction industries. He sees his role as a 'senior rookie' at the Blues in a similar light, "it's kind of my job a little bit I think, being older and having a bit of experience especially in the working world and all that sort of stuff. You kind of, not so much make, just help guys realise how lucky they are to have contracts and earning good money and all that sort of thing," Hyland says.

With the season beginning two weeks earlier than normal next year, Hyland is looking forward to hitting the ground running in the next few weeks, and hopes to make the most of his unexpected chance at this stage of his career.

"You know when you do get those opportunities, and when it does happen for you, you just got to make the best of your opportunities.  Hopefully I can get out there and do the Blues proud and also my family proud and everything when I do get a chance."

Having amassed a total of 46 Mitre Cup games over 5 years, and receiving his first Super Rugby contract as a 30-year-old, while setting himself up in business shows he is the embodiment of never giving up chasing his dreams right to the bitter end.