Ranger to take centre stage

Wed, 23 Jan 2013 15:41
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After shifting between the midfield and different wings last season, Blues livewire Rene Ranger is focussing on making the No.13 jersey his own in 2013.

After shifting between the midfield and different wings last season, Blues livewire Rene Ranger is focussing on making the No.13 jersey his own in 2013.

With stocks thinning in the midfield for the All Blacks, there are huge opportunities for Ranger to reclaim the black jersey he wore on three occasions in 2010.

“This year I’ve had a yarn with JK [John Kirwan] and I’m keen to play centre and try to cement that spot. I want to get better at it so hopefully I get to play a bit more centre this season,” Ranger said.

 “It’s always a goal to get back in that black jersey. I missed out after ITM Cup for the end-of-year tour last year but that’s rugby for you.

“The key thing is to try and play well for the Blues, make them look good, hopefully make yourself look good and then you never know you might get those higher honours with the All Blacks.”

He’s still got the trademark smile and jovial attitude, but there is a steelier edge to Ranger this season as he takes up a leadership role in the franchise’s new-look backline.

One of only two backs remaining from last year’s campaign, the 26-year-old is heading into his fifth campaign with the Blues in 2013 and has stepped us as a leader amongst a young and enthusiastic group.

“JK’s put more of a leadership role on me this year as I’m getting to that veteran stage with the Blues in the backline,” Ranger said.

“Piri and I are the only ones here from last year but then again you’ve got all these young guys coming in, they’ve got good feet, they’re fast and I need to set the example by playing well.”

But that’s not going to deter Ranger from expressing his comical character.

Always one for a practical joke and a laugh, Ranger said he would strike a balance between having fun and getting down to business.

“I’m a joker and I always like to smile and keep the boys happy but there’s a balance where you’ve got to be serious as well. The young boys are really into it and they want to learn so hopefully when I speak up some of the stuff I say gets through.

“That used to be me, you either listen or you don’t but then again it may help you play better rugby. I’ve done that in the past with the likes of Rox [Joe Rokocoko], Ant Tuitavake and Isaia Toeava who really helped my game so hopefully I can do the same with this new generation of Blues players coming through.”

Whilst mentoring some of the new faces in the Blues backline, Ranger has also been working hard on his own game during the off-season.

His boxing match in December’s Fight for Life has seen the Northland star return to pre-season in the best shape he’s ever been in.

He’s fitter than ever, he’s lost weight while maintaining his strength and he’s clocking some of the fastest times over 10 metres for his position in New Zealand.

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Fri, 26 August 2016
Golden Lions v Boland 15h00 Johannesburg
Pumas v Griquas 17h10 Kimberley
Sat, 27 August 2016
New Zealand v Australia 07h35 Wellington
EP Kings v Western Province 14h00 Port Elizabeth
Sharks v Blue Bulls 16h10 Durban
Argentina v South Africa 19h40 Salta
RESULT SCORE
Sat, 20 August 2016
South Africa v Argentina 30 | 23
Golden Lions v Griquas 24 | 30
Australia v New Zealand 8 | 42
Fri, 19 August 2016
Blue Bulls v EP Kings 49 | 35
Western Province v Free State Cheetahs 25 | 32
Boland v Sharks 20 | 41
Sat, 13 August 2016
Free State Cheetahs v Blue Bulls 43 | 20
Golden Lions v Pumas 68 | 26
Fri, 12 August 2016
Sharks v Griquas 46 | 24
EP Kings v Boland 10 | 28
Sat, 06 August 2016
Boland v Free State Cheetahs 16 | 44
Hurricanes v Lions 20 | 3
Fri, 05 August 2016
Pumas v Sharks 10 | 33
Blue Bulls v Western Province 45 | 26
Sat, 30 July 2016
Lions v Highlanders 42 | 30
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Pool AU
Team P W D L Pts
Brumbies 15 10 0 5 43
Waratahs 15 8 0 7 40
Rebels 15 7 0 8 31
Reds 15 3 1 11 17
Force 15 2 0 13 13
Pool NZ
Team P W D L Pts
Hurricanes 15 11 0 4 53
Highlanders 15 11 0 4 52
Chiefs 15 11 0 4 51
Crusaders 15 11 0 4 50
Blues 15 8 1 6 39
Pool SA1
Team P W D L Pts
Stormers 15 10 1 4 51
Bulls 15 9 1 5 42
Cheetahs 15 4 0 11 21
Sunwolves 15 1 1 13 9
Pool SA2
Team P W D L Pts
Lions 14 11 0 3 52
Sharks 15 9 1 5 43
Jaguares 14 3 0 11 18
Kings 15 2 0 13 9