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Kaino warns Blues about Crusaders backlash

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Blues captain Jerome Kaino has warned his team-mates to expect a “grumpy” Crusaders side hungry for their first Super Rugby win in Christchurch this weekend.

The Blues beat the Highlanders 33-31 in their opening match while the Crusaders were beaten 21-27 at home by the Chiefs.

Kaino sat out last week’s opener on suspension but is available to play this weekend and is expecting the Crusaders to play a lot better this week.

“They’ll be grumpy, that’s for sure,” Kaino told Stuff.

“We saw against the Chiefs how good their forward pack are, especially their scrum and their lineout. And their intensity will only ramp up after a loss.

“They’ll be well structured and well drilled but their intensity and physicality will ramp up a little bit just because they’ll be a bit grumpy.

“It will be a great test and we need to be mentally prepared for that. We haven’t won down there in a while and we’ll have to be composed and be prepared for what’s coming.”

Kaino said that watching the Blues from the stands last week he was nervous but impressed with the way they played.

“It was tense at times but just the way the boys adapted our game-plan to how they defended impressed me,” he said.

“Also how we hung in there. They put a lot of heat on us early but the boys had the resolve to fight back and adapt how we played.

“In the past I don’t think we would have seen a Blues team adapt like that and come back stronger, so that was pleasing.”

New Blues coach Tana Umaga has changed the environment in the squad and has made it clear that even though they have made a bright start they haven’t achieved anything yet.

“There are a lot of guys here who have been around for a while and understand the competition. We know it’s a grind, and this is just one game, ” explained Kaino.

“We’ve seen the Blues come out firing first game and get good wins. We’ve been here before, and we haven’t backed it up the next few games. We know what’s ahead.

“By no means was it a perfect performance. We know that, we take a lot of confidence out of knowing we’re heading in the right direction, but we know we still need to polish up a lot of areas or we’ll be back where we were.”

Kaino said that he was particularly impressed with young openside flanker Blake Gibson who scored a barnstorming try in the first half.

“I knew what he was capable of, as did our coaching staff, but how he performed for the full 80 was mind-blowing,” Kaino said.

“It was great to see him start that way and it will have given him a lot of confidence. He’s young, we don’t want to put too much pressure on him, but we do want him to go out there and play his natural game.”

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