McCartney ready to push Mealamu into being a better player



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Auckland Air New Zealand Cup hooker Tom McCartney has his eye set on taking Blues and All Black Keven Mealamu Super 14 starting slot in this year’s Super 14.

The 22 year-old McCartney says he is relishing being in the main Blues squad, after he was in the wider training group last year.

‘The main difference has been the intensity of everything we have done really.


“Training and the way we want to play the game in the Blues is a step up from anything I have been involved in before,” McCartney says on the Blues website.

‘Across the board I think all of our skill levels have improved and the fitness training has been more intense.’

While Mealamu stands in McCartney’s path to being the first choice hooker for the Blues he is realistic about the situation and has a lot of admiration for Mealamu and says that the All Black has been a great help.

‘Keven is awesome. From the first day I met him he said to me if I need help with anything to ask him and he will help me.

Sometimes without me even asking, he will come up to me and offer advice. It is good to have someone like that helping me along the way.

‘(Skills Coach) Liam Barry has also been very helpful, particularly with my longer passing game off the lineout, when I sweep around after we win the ball and pass to the backline.’

All the hard work in the gym has paid off for McCartney, as he is one of the strongest players in the Blues squad. Now it is a matter of fine tuning his skills.

‘The trainers have identified that I am definitely strong enough now, so it is a matter of getting more specific to my role and working on things like my flexibility.’

Having played for a number of New Zealand teams staunch Pakuranga club man, McCartney says he is eager to play in South Africa for the first time.

‘I’m excited about playing there. It is a dream really. I have never been there before and when you think about playing professional rugby, it is traveling to play in places like South Africa that come to mind. I hear it is pretty tough playing over there, so I guess that’s why our pre-season training has been so tough as well.’

McCartney also says that after achieving his 2007 goals he has re-evaluated his goals for 2008.

‘My goal last year was to play well enough to get picked up to play Super 14 rugby. Now that I have achieved that, I have reassessed things.

“It is quite hard when you are behind a player like Keven Mealamu, but I guess you just have to try and do everything you can to keep pushing him to make him a better player as well.’

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