Luatua steps up to the plate

Thu, 11 Apr 2013 12:10
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When All Black enforcer Jerome Kaino left the Blues at the end of last year to play in Japan, his void appeared impossible to fill.

When All Black enforcer Jerome Kaino left the Blues at the end of last year to play in Japan, his void appeared impossible to fill.

An 85-match veteran for the Blues over nine years and the most devastating No.6 in the world, Kaino was irreplaceable.

Well, almost.

They are certainly huge boots to fill, but so far his young understudy Steven Luatua is making a great fist of it and has stepped up to the mark incredibly this season.

After earning four caps as injury cover in a disastrous campaign last year, Luatua has been an integral part of the Blues' campaign this season as he continues to improve with each performance.

A strong and powerful runner with the ball in hand, a solid defender and a hard grafter, Luatua said he absorbed so much advice from Kaino and credited him for the big strides he has taken in his game.

"I learned so much from Jerome, just the way he played and the way he carried himself," Luatua said.

"In my first few games last year the advice he gave me was just to focus on carrying strong and tackling hard, and in those important moments when things are going rough, particularly last year, it really helped."

A former New Zealand Secondary Schools and Under-20 representative, the drums are now beating for Luatua to push on to higher honours with the All Blacks.

However the incredibly modest 21-year-old brushed aside those suggestions and insisted his only focus was on playing well for the Blues, personifying the team's mantra ‘better never stops'.

"I just want to go out there and play six for the Blues," he said.

"That's my job right now and to retain that jersey for next week as well but it's about doing the business on the weekend first so I'll just focus on that.

"I'm OK with the way I'm tracking right now but I don't want to be just OK, I want to be great. There's still plenty of room for improvement and I'm looking to push on from there, not rest on my laurels and try to keep getting better."

Luatua faces one of the toughest challenges of the season on Saturday night against an impressive Hurricanes loose forward trio featuring Ardie Savea, Faifili Levave and Brad Shields.

With thanks to the Blues media unit

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FIXTURE GMT VENUE
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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MORE LOGS
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