Aussies have Lions to thank for form

Tue, 23 Apr 2013 16:32
Large john kirwan at eden par630k Large quade cooper reds try Large will genia reds pass

Blues coach John Kirwan believes the impressive form the Australian Super Rugby teams are showing could be attributed to the looming B&I Lions tour.

Blues coach John Kirwan believes the impressive form the Australian Super Rugby teams are showing could be attributed to the looming British and Irish Lions tour.

Kirwan’s third-placed Blues face the second-placed Reds at Suncorp Stadium on Friday, with this year’s results suggesting a win for the Brisbane side.

The Australians have scored seven victories over New Zealand teams this season, with the Hurricanes the only team to manage a win against them.

Kirwan feels the race for places in the Wallaby team for the three-Test series against the Lions in June has brought the best out of Australian players this season.

He referenced the return to form of Reds playmaker Quade Cooper after being omitted from Robbie Deans’s first planning squad earlier this month as a case in point.

“It’s a bit like the World Cup isn’t it? Everyone has a bit of an edge and wants to be selected. I know when I was playing, to play the Lions was a highlight,” Kirwan said.

“I just wish [Wallaby coach] Robbie Deans hadn’t left Quade out of that squad, since then he’s been playing the house down.”

Ten rounds into the competition the exuberant Blues find themselves topping the New Zealand Conference, however, Kirwan is not getting carried away. Instead, he stressed the importance to stay focussed and keep working hard.

“I’m really happy with where we are but we’re just half-way through and we need to make sure that we keep working hard,” he said.

“The next six weeks is defining for everyone. The bottom team can get to the top and the top team can go to the bottom so we’re not getting carried away, we’ve got to keep working hard and we’ve got a huge test on Friday.”

Indeed, Friday’s fixture in Brisbane will be the biggest challenge the Blues have faced this season.

The 2011 champions are in fine form, toppling last year’s champions the Chiefs a fortnight ago before grinding out a 19-all draw with the table-topping Brumbies last week.

“They’re the best side in the competition,” Kirwan said.

“I thought it was a really tense, physical battle the other night against the Brumbies so we need to be ready for that.

“It’s going to be a battle up front firstly because they’re really aggressive at the ruck and then we need to try and contain two world-class backline players in Will Genia and Quade Cooper.”

Captain Ali Williams missed training on Monday with an ongoing knee issue but will be fine to take on the Reds, while Kirwan intimated that All Black veteran Keven Mealamu would continue to make his impact felt off the bench on Friday.

“Keven will probably play off the bench. Kevvie’s going well and so is JP [James Parsons] so we’ve got a really nice bit of competition there.

“We know what Kevvie can bring us but JP has also been playing the house down so off the bench for Kevvie and see what happens.”

Crusaders vs Brumbies
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Sat, 25 February 2017
Waratahs v Force 08h45 Allianz Park
Saracens v Sale Sharks 12h45 Allianz Park
Exeter Chiefs v Newcastle Falcons 13h00 Sandy Park
Northampton Saints v Worcester Warriors 13h00 Franklin's Gardens
Cheetahs v Lions 13h05 Bloemfontein
Scotland v Wales 14h25 BT Murrayfield
Kings v Jaguares 15h15 Port Elizabeth
Ireland v France 16h50 Aviva Stadium
Stormers v Bulls 17h30 Cape Town
Sun, 26 February 2017
Bristol v Bath 11h00 Ashton Gate
Zebre v Ulster 12h30 Stadio Sergio Lanfranchi
Treviso v Connacht 12h30 Stadio Comunale di Monigo
Wasps v Gloucester 12h30 Ricoh Arena
Ospreys v Glasgow Warriors 13h05 Liberty Stadium
England v Italy 15h00 Twickenham Stadium
Mon, 27 February 2017
UCT-Ikeys v Maties 14h45 Cape Town
UWC v TUT 16h30 Cape Town
UP-Tuks v Wits 16h30 Pretoria
CPUT v UKZN-Impi 16h30 Cape Town
CUT-Ixias v UJ 16h30 Bloemfontein
Rhodes v Fort Hare 16h30 Grahamstown
Shimlas v NWU-Pukke 17h00 Bloemfontein
Thu, 02 March 2017
Force v Reds 10h30 Perth
Fri, 03 March 2017
Chiefs v Blues 06h35 Hamilton
Connacht v Zebre 19h35 Ascoli Piceno
Edinburgh v Ospreys 19h35 Myreside
Ulster v Treviso 19h35 Kingspan Stadium
Sale Sharks v Northampton Saints 20h15 AJ Bell Stadium
Sat, 04 March 2017
Hurricanes v Rebels 04h15 Wellington
RESULT SCORE
Sat, 25 February 2017
Sunwolves v Hurricanes 17 | 83
Fri, 24 February 2017
Munster v Scarlets 21 | 30
Dragons v Leinster 22 | 54
Edinburgh v Cardiff Blues 17 | 18
Harlequins v Leicester Tigers 18 | 27
Reds v Sharks 28 | 26
Highlanders v Chiefs 15 | 24
Thu, 23 February 2017
Rebels v Blues 18 | 56
Tue, 21 February 2017
CUT-Ixias v Shimlas 13 | 22
Mon, 20 February 2017
UJ v UP-Tuks 18 | 11
Maties v NMMU-Madibaz 35 | 16
UKZN-Impi v Fort Hare 16 | 10
NWU-Pukke v UCT-Ikeys 20 | 15
TUT v WSU 13 | 17
UWC v Rhodes 88 | 8
SUPER RUGBY
MORE LOGS
Pool AU
Team P W D L Pts
Reds 1 1 0 0 4
Brumbies 0 0 0 0 0
Waratahs 0 0 0 0 0
Force 0 0 0 0 0
Rebels 1 0 0 1 0
Pool NZ
Team P W D L Pts
Blues 1 1 0 0 5
Chiefs 1 1 0 0 5
Hurricanes 0 0 0 0 0
Crusaders 0 0 0 0 0
Highlanders 1 0 0 1 0
Pool SA1
Team P W D L Pts
Stormers 0 0 0 0 0
Bulls 0 0 0 0 0
Cheetahs 0 0 0 0 0
Sunwolves 0 0 0 0 0
Pool SA2
Team P W D L Pts
Sharks 1 0 0 1 1
Lions 0 0 0 0 0
Jaguares 0 0 0 0 0
Kings 0 0 0 0 0