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, 16 October 2015
Blue Bulls v Western Province 17h10 Pretoria
Connacht v Zebre 18h30 Sportsground
Glasgow Warriors v Dragons 18h35 Scotstoun
Scarlets v Leinster 18h35 Parc y Scarlets
Worcester Warriors v Northampton Saints 18h45 Sixways
Edinburgh v Ulster 18h45 BT Murrayfield
Harlequins v Wasps 18h45 Twickenham Stoop
Newcastle Falcons v Gloucester 19h00 Kingston Park
Sat, 17 October 2015
Munster v Cardiff Blues 12h30 Irish Independent Park
Bath v Exeter Chiefs 13h00 Recreation Ground
Saracens v Sale Sharks 13h00 Allianz Park
Treviso v Ospreys 13h30 Stadio Comunale di Monigo
South Africa v Wales 15h00 Twickenham
Golden Lions v Free State Cheetahs 15h05 Johannesburg
New Zealand v France 19h00 Millennium Stadium
Sun, 18 October 2015
Ireland v Argentina 12h00 Millennium Stadium
London Irish v Leicester Tigers 14h15 Madejski Stadium
Australia v Scotland 15h00 Twickenham
Sun, 11 October 2015
United States v Japan 18 | 28
France v Ireland 9 | 24
Italy v Romania 32 | 22
Argentina v Namibia 64 | 19
Sat, 10 October 2015
England v Uruguay 60 | 3
Australia v Wales 15 | 6
Golden Lions v Griquas 29 | 19
Samoa v Scotland 33 | 36
Free State Cheetahs v Sharks 34 | 34
Fri, 09 October 2015
New Zealand v Tonga 47 | 9
Western Province v EP Kings 45 | 14
Pumas v Blue Bulls 24 | 25
Wed, 07 October 2015
Namibia v Georgia 16 | 17
South Africa v United States 64 | 0
Tue, 06 October 2015
Fiji v Uruguay 47 | 15
Pool AU
Team P W D L Pts
Waratahs 16 11 0 5 52
Brumbies 16 9 0 7 47
Rebels 16 7 0 9 36
Reds 16 4 0 12 22
Force 16 3 0 13 19
Pool NZ
Team P W D L Pts
Hurricanes 16 14 0 2 66
Highlanders 16 11 0 5 53
Chiefs 16 10 0 6 48
Crusaders 16 9 0 7 46
Blues 16 3 0 13 20
Pool SA
Team P W D L Pts
Stormers 16 10 1 5 45
Lions 16 9 1 6 42
Bulls 16 7 0 9 38
Sharks 16 7 0 9 34
Cheetahs 16 5 0 11 26