Blues

Blues’ All Blacks ready for Super Rugby return

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Blues coach Sir John Kirwan has confirmed that he will have his full contingent of All Blacks available for selection in Saturday’s crucial match against the Western Force.

Mathematically the Blues are still in contention for the play offs even though they are last in the New Zealand Conference.

The Blues need to win their last three remaining matches and all of them are against teams that are also still in the running for the play offs.

Worryingly for the Blues just one of their remaining matches is at home and two are away. The Blues have not won away from home since February last year. The Blues start this week against the Force and then visit the Crusaders and finish at home with a match against reigning champions the Chiefs.

Coach Kirwan expects to have injured All Black Francis Saili back as well as Jackson Willison who proved his fitness in the Blues squad that won the weekend’s inaugural World 10s tournament in Singapore.

The real boost for the Blues will be the availability of All Blacks like Jerome Kaino, front-rowers Tony Woodcock, Charlie Faumuina and Keven Mealamu, rookie lock Patrick Tuipulotu and midfielder Ma’a Nonu.

Kirwan allowed his All Blacks to rest on Monday after the series victory over England but expects them all to report fit and healthy for Wednesday’s flight to Perth.

“I’ve spoken to all the guys in the All Blacks and they’re really keen to get back into the Blues environment,” Kirwan told Stuff.

“We’ve got a hard ask but everyone is really positive about what we’re doing. The one game that’s really important for us is this week, and it’s a balance between resting them up, refreshing the legs and making sure we’re ready to go.”

Two players from the 10s, Piri Weepu and Ofa Tu’ungafasi will fly direct from Singapore to Perth and Kirwan said that the victory there had given his players a spring in their step.

“Tens is something we want to concentrate on – it’s great for our brand overseas. I see it as a real positive. “

“The guys are going to come back and inject a bit of excitement, we’re all clapping and yahooing this morning, and we’ve got a trophy in the cabinet which is important.”

Kirwan said that Charles Piutau could make his return from injury next week against the Crusaders and Simon Hickey is a chance to face the Chiefs in the final regular season match.

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