He was the victim of two failed seasons in the European Cup finals and Top 14 finals. However, IhaiaWest made sure that La Rochelle won his first European Cup title by walking to Marseille.
CHAMPIONS D'EUROPE 2022 pic.twitter.com/GNBeUQuXTV
He was the one who won the last ball of match. He converted Arthur Retiere's attempt, giving La Rochelle the lead in the final moments of the match. The match's history (24-21) does not change with these two points. However, this kick in the direction of the South Bend of the Velodrome where La Rochelle supporters were gathered has symbolic meaning and revenge.
West, a New Zealander who arrived to La Rochelle in 2018 from New Zealand, is known for his ability as an opener and a weak scorer. His painful defeats against the poles during the finals last season against Toulouse were a huge burden.
He had been outstanding against Leinster in the semi-finals at the European Cup a year ago. He lost eight points in the final and then fell again in the Top 14 final. His manager Ronan O'Gara also admitted that he went through a crisis of confidence. He explained that shooting success is more mental than physical. "It's a game you play with yourself. I need mental preparation.
The one who will be joining Toulon at end of the exercise has been able raise the bar throughout the season. After taking only one of four shots at goal, he stated that "it was a bit more wind, a lot of stress".
Saturday's match in Marseille was a hinge match with Thomas Berjon, an inexperienced player who was absent from the N.9 Tawera-Barlow. His foot didn't tremble even though he was paired in hinge with him. He transformed Raymond Rhule’s attempt to place his team in the lead (7-6) in the 12th minute. Johnny Sexton, his Leinster counterpart, put on the penalties like pearls near the end. He also scored three valuable points from 20 metres slightly to the right (10-12).
He was unable to convert Pierre Bourgarit’s attempt to bring La Rochelle just one point behind Ireland (18-17), and he remained icy for the remainder of the hour. He animated the game of three quarters with speed and precision, but not because he was a genius. Even though he occasionally backed off the tackle, he crossed the first curtain twice to ensure his team remained dangerous.
His last successful kick was the final proof of his solid performance. It also symbolically erased all the previous 12 months' worth of balls. West, at 30, can travel to Toulon in peace. All his failures will be forgotten in La Rochelle.