Blues wary of threat posed by Rebels
May 7, 2013
The two 'Sirs' of the Auckland-based Blues - John Kirwan and Graham Henry - are wary of the Rebels threat © Getty Images
Quality of opposition for the Blues might drop this week from the upper and middle stages of the points table to the lower reaches against the Rebels but coach Sir John Kirwan says there will be no change in emphasis for the side.
Kirwan felt his side was poor in their win over the Stormers, and while showing courage and doing some good work there was a genuine need to keep improving.
"The Rebels have been playing bloody well so they're a real danger. They've got three real world-class players who are playing on top of their game trying to get into the Lions series in [James] O'Connor, Kurtley Beale's come back and he's got a thing to prove and you've got a really good loose forward trio, so we need to be on our game," Kirwan said. "If we're not on our game we're under the pump."
There would be a need to make changes in the side but it wouldn't be as many as for the Bulls game. Kirwan said he had learnt that lesson, and there would be two or three changes for the weekend.
An area of attention this week has been the defensive alignment of the backline after Springbok midfielder Jean de Villiers was able to break through and score a key try which brought the Stormers right back into the game.
"We need to get our alignment right and then one-on-one tackles, we missed too many tackles last weekend. We went from 92 percent to 83 percent and if we do that this week we'll get beaten," Kirwan said.
There was some good news for the Blues on the injury front with hooker Keven Mealamu's calf muscle not being as badly injured as believed. He will be playing off the Blues bench in this weekend's game with the Rebels at Eden Park.
Flanker Steven Luatua had some ankle concerns. There was an expectation he might pull out during training on Tuesday, but he didn't so that was another good piece of news.
Midfield Jackson Willison is out of consideration for the weekend due to an ankle injury sustained against the Reds which didn't improve last weekend.
It was likely that Luke Braid would be placed on the bench against the Rebels in order to give him some relief from his heavy workload and his place would be taken by Brendan O'Conner.
"The thirst for knowledge has seen coaches break away from the confines of rugby and look to America." Tom Hamilton on the two-way learning process
On Saturday, New Zealand face the USA in a match that has been 40 years in the making. Tom Hamilton finds the atmosphere building in Chicago
Most modern rugby players will not know the name Ray Williams but they should be eternally grateful to him, writes John Taylor
With the All Blacks playing the USA Eagles this weekend, Craig Dowd says rugby is ready to make a professional breakthrough Stateside