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.”

There are currently no matches being played
Fri, 23 March 2018
Connacht v Edinburgh 22h00 Sportsground
Munster v Scarlets 22h00 Thomond Park
Dragons v Cheetahs 22h00 Rodney Parade
Ospreys v Leinster 22h00 Liberty Stadium
Cardiff Blues v Ulster 22h00 Cardiff Arms Park
Glasgow Warriors v Zebre 22h00 Scotstoun
Kings v Treviso 22h00 Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium
Crusaders v Bulls 06h35 Christchurch
Rebels v Sharks 08h45 Melbourne
Bath v Exeter Chiefs 19h45 Recreation Ground
Sat, 24 March 2018
Sunwolves v Chiefs 04h15 Tokyo
Hurricanes v Highlanders 06h35 Wellington
Saracens v Harlequins 15h00 London
London Irish v Gloucester 15h00 Madejski Stadium
Sale Sharks v Worcester Warriors 15h00 AJ Bell Stadium
Stormers v Reds 15h15 Newlands
Newcastle Falcons v Northampton Saints 17h30 Kingston Park
Jaguares v Lions 19h40 Estadio Jose Amalfitani
Sun, 25 March 2018
Leicester Tigers v Wasps 15h00 Welford Road
Sun, 18 March 2018
Waratahs v Rebels 51 | 27
Sat, 17 March 2018
Jaguares v Reds 7 | 18
Wales v France 14 | 13
Lions v Sunwolves 40 | 38
England v Ireland 15 | 24
Stormers v Blues 37 | 20
Italy v Scotland 27 | 29
Brumbies v Sharks 24 | 17
Highlanders v Crusaders 25 | 17
Fri, 16 March 2018
Cardiff Blues v Treviso 31 | 25
Edinburgh v Munster 12 | 6
Chiefs v Bulls 41 | 28
Sun, 11 March 2018
Wales v Italy 38 | 14
Sat, 10 March 2018
Jaguares v Waratahs 38 | 28
France v England 22 | 16
Pool AU
Team P W D L Pts
Rebels 4 3 0 1 15
Waratahs 4 2 1 1 10
Reds 3 2 0 1 8
Brumbies 4 2 0 2 8
Sunwolves 4 0 0 4 2
Pool NZ
Team P W D L Pts
Highlanders 3 3 0 0 13
Hurricanes 3 2 0 1 10
Crusaders 4 2 0 2 10
Chiefs 3 2 0 1 8
Blues 4 1 0 3 6
Pool SA
Team P W D L Pts
Lions 5 4 0 1 19
Stormers 5 2 0 3 9
Sharks 4 1 1 4 9
Bulls 4 1 0 3 5
Jaguares 4 1 0 3 4