Illness, injury strike Blues' camp
April 29, 2013
Blues fullback Charles Piutau is suffering from influenza © Getty Images
Illness has hit the Blues camp as they attempt to prepare for Friday's game in Albany against the Stormers.
Coach John Kirwan said flanker Steven Luatua and fullback Charles Piutau were both suffering influenza, while centre Rene Ranger has an infection and is hospital on a drip, although he is expected to be released on Tuesday.
Hooker James Parsons hurt his neck in Friday's game against the Queensland Reds and the Blues were awaiting the results of medical tests.
Consequently, Kirwan has delayed naming the team to his players until Wednesday.
Kirwan said it wasn't entirely unexpected that players would be suffering in one way or another after 11 rounds of the competition.
"We knew people would be tired. Most of the guys who are sick have played the biggest numbers. Charles has played every minute of every game and done every training run so we expected this," he said.
He said it was important to be watchful of how much work was done on the training paddock this week.
He said he sensed a degree of maturity developing, but that would mean nothing if his side did not get up again on Friday.
"The guys realise that we can compete with the best so that is great for our confidence," he said.
While there were concerns over rulings at the breakdown, especially in the final 10 minutes against the Reds, Kirwan said the Blues had to learn to roll with those things because there were differences between referees.
"We probably let ourselves down in the last four minutes and if you are going to play that type of football, it might be like that on Friday night and we need to win those moments."
Kirwan said hooker Keven Mealamu was ready to step up to a starting position this weekend after coming off the bench for the past three weeks and acknowledged that Parsons had done an outstanding job for the side.
The 48-year-old is expecting the Stormers to be aggressive and says that requires his Blues to be ready physically for the encounter.
"They are very good mauling, and around the breakdown. The African sides throw different stuff at us so we need to be ready for that," he said. "They are very good on defence so the attack coach is going to have to earn his money this week. They are good right across the board - they frustrate teams, they are in there at the breakdown so that's a typical African side and they will be really tough."
Because of concerns with the Stormers' mauling ability, Kirwan said he would be consulting with referees' boss Lyndon Bray to get some clarity after being penalised in that area against the Reds.
"We'll need to do that against all the African sides because they are very good at it so that will be a key work-on for us this week," he said.
Firdose Moonda looks at the moves towards greater integration within South African rugby ... and what the future holds
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