Braid blow for Blues
Mon, 28 Apr 2014 08:11
Patrick really stepped up
Captain Luke Braid will miss the Blues' next fixture against the Reds with injury and Keven Mealamu will take over the reins.
Braid injured his shoulder in the 21-13 win against the Waratahs on Saturday, but carried on playing because the Blues had no substitues left to make.
Now it seems as if the knock has caught up with him as he will sit out the game against the Reds on Friday.
The 110-cap All Black Mealamu will captain the side and will relish the challenge of reprising the role he had in the past.
"I'm looking forward to the opportunity and want to make sure I do a good job for the team and am really looking forward to it," Mealamu told ONE Sport.
Braid could be replaced in the side by fellow openside Brendan O'Connor or All Black Steven Luatua, who was benched last week, but on the blindside of the scrum the in-form Jerome Kaino is eyeing a return to the All Blacks' fold.
Kaino last played for New Zealand in the 2011 World Cup final before moving to play his rugby in Japan, and stands on 49 All Blacks caps.
"That's the ultimate goal," Kaino said of playing for NZ again.
"I just want to perform well for [in Super Rugby] and get the Blues up near the top of the conference and if I can do that then I'm sure that national honours will take care of themself."
Mealamu has been delighted with the physical presence that Kaino has brought to the Blues since his return from Japan and said that it is no suprise he has brought that edge in the five games since he has been back.
"Jerome adds a lot of presence to our team and I think since he's stepped back in to a Blues jersey he's brought that," Mealamu said.
"It hasn't been a surprise for us because we knew he was capable of it. [It's] just great to see him back too."
Blues coach Sir John Kirwan was happy with his side's performance in their win over the Waratahs last week but knows that consistency is key.
"The attitude [against Waratahs] is something we need to replicate [in future games]," Kirwan told the NZ Herald.
"Ma'a [Nonu], Kevvy and Jerome really stepped up and they drove the team and that's important. It's important that they continue to do that."
21-year-old Blues lock Patrick Tuipulotu produced a great preformance against a physical Waratahs which includes the likes of Will Skelton, Kane Douglas and Jacques Potgieter and Kirwan was suitably impressed.
"Patrick really stepped up into that [physical challenge].
"He knew what he was up against and he had some big men hitting him. He matched them, if not dominated, and that's a pretty big call for such a young man.
"He's a little bit like [young flyhalf] Simon [Hickey].
"We have to protect him and balance it out, which is always difficult when you're under the pump.
"He had a few weeks off because of an injury so he's still quite fresh but we do need to keep an eye on him.
"But he's stepping up every week, which is fantastic.
"If he's happy and enjoying it and has a smile on his face, that's normally a pretty good indicator," Kirwan added.
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