Braid not getting the Blues over his ‘weird’ Reds debut


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All Black Daniel Braid is bracing himself for a “weird” Reds debut on Friday night as he will be playing against the team he played for in eight seasons of Super Rugby.

For Braid not only does the jersey colour change but, as luck would have it , the new Reds flanker will line up against his old team in his old home town.

“It’s quite funny really, to be up against them straight away, I guess get all the demons out straight away,” Braid told AAP on Monday.

“It will be quite weird … playing in Auckland and not being in the home team.

“At least I know how they go, how they play, and hopefully they take it easy on me.”

The match is only a Super 14 pre-season trial, there’s little chance of that for Braid who left Auckland and the Blues to become the Reds’ inaugural marquee international.

When news broke of his surprise switch he received Auckland’s good wishes but the 27-year-old expects the same sort of reception another former Blues forward, Ali Williams, received on his return when playing for the Crusaders last year.

“I guess the position I’m in will make them want to target me even more as I’ll try and get in there and steal a bit of ball,” he said.

“I’ll be in position to take a few shots from them.

“It will be a bit of feeling like when we played against Ali Williams last year, there was a fair bit of noise the first few times when he ran the ball up.

“It will be good for when we play them in the competition game (on April 25), when all the pressure’s on and I won’t have to think about coming up against the old team.”

So far Braid hasn’t received any pre-match sledges from his old team mates but he knows that they will come at Waitakere Stadium.

“They haven’t got my Australian number,” Braid said.

“(But) I bumped into a few mates when I was back over there at Christmas time and there were a few friendly jibes.”

Braid played his last his five Tests for New Zealand against Australia in July before being cast off for the rest of the Tri-Nations as Richie McCaw returned from injury, Braid made the call to escape McCaw’s shadow.

He has signed a two year deal with the Reds but it includes an option in his favour after the 2009 Super 14, which could see him back in Auckland later this year.

Braid however says that he is feeling refreshed and rejuvenated by the change of environment and his experience and work ethic has also seen him immediately inducted into the Reds leadership group.

“I’m really enjoying it so far,” he said.

“I’d been in Auckland for eight years, since I was in school pretty much, so it’s been good to be in a totally new group of guys and they’re a good bunch.”

Braid will be one of 10 Reds top-liners named on Tuesday to play their first game of the year after being rested from the 17-5 loss to the Waratahs on Saturday night.

The Reds will also have a new captain with prop Greg Holmes in line to take over from Number eight Leroy Houston, before Berrick Barnes returns to the helm against the Western Force on February 5.

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