Braid back for qualifier clash
June 22, 2011
Daniel Braid will come off the bench in his return from a neck injury © Getty Images
Blues flanker Daniel Braid will return from a long-term neck injury for his side's Super Rugby qualifying clash against the Waratahs at Eden Park on Friday.
The All Blacks international is set to be deployed off the bench to provide cover for his younger brother, Luke, after overcoming the injury sustained against the Western Force back in round four. The 30-year-old says it has been a frustrating past three-months on the sidelines, but a 40-minute stint off the bench for club side University, in which he scored two tries, has him confident heading into the weekend.
"It's been very frustrating sitting on the sidelines and watching the boys go so well but now we're into the crunch time it's good to be back," he said. "I was really nervous in the team selection meeting wondering whether I going to be named on the bench or not and to come back into this knockout footy is really exciting.
"I feel ready now, the last bit was just getting the confidence up going into contact, making tackles and hitting rucks and I got that on the weekend so I'm feeling good."
Meanwhile, in the only other change to the Blues' line-up, coach Pat Lam is set to bring in Alby Mathewson to starting halfback in place of Chris Smylie. Lam believes the hype surrounding the impending Auckland clash will spur his side on to victory over the Waratahs.
"There's a sense of achievement that we've got this far and the excitement kicks in. Obviously having so many people from the media down here adds to that too so everyone's looking forward to it and we want to step up another level, you need to in these games."
Blues: Jared Payne, Joe Rokocoko, Benson Stanley, Luke McAlister, Lachie Munro, Stephen Brett, Alby Mathewson; Peter Saili, Luke Braid, Jerome Kaino, Ali Williams, Anthony Boric, John Afoa, Keven Mealamu, Charlie Faumuina.
Replacements: Tom McCartney, Tevita Mailau, Chris Lowery, Daniel Braid, Chris Smylie, Winston Stanley, Sherwin Stowers.
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
Martin Gillingham looks ahead to what he believes is the most remarkable ever climax to the league phase of the Top 14
With just two rounds left in the regular season, we look at the prospects of the teams taking part in the Championship play-offs
Joe Simpson talks to Charlie Morgan about loss, Wasps and being England's game-breaker
It is 100 years this week since the last international match played in Europe before the outbreak of World War One. Rewind remembers the fixture's longest-living survivor