The Blues have named a group of 20 players who will form the core of the 2013 Blues Development team for a five-game campaign in February and March.
The players have been selected from across the Blues region and begin training today.
Coached by Bevan Cadwallader, Derren Whitcombe and Paul Feeney the team will prepare for matches against the Crusader Knights, Chiefs Development, Samoa A, Fiji A and Japan A.
Cadwallader said the majority of the players come into the squad with ITM Cup experience and their involvement will be an important step in their rugby development.
“The focus for this team is to bring the next best talent from the Blues region together and give them the opportunity to push for higher honours,” said Cadwallader.
“They’ll have the chance to play with some of the existing Blues players and be seen by JK and his coaching team while playing in the Blues jersey.”
The team will come together once a week for training and Cadwallader said the rest of the time the onus will be on the players to keep up their own training routines amidst existing commitments.
“Most of these players have jobs or study so training once a week fits well in terms of other commitments and travel. It will be a real test of their professionalism and willingness to work hard and maintain a professional attitude outside of the team environment.
“It’s a short campaign and we need to be switched on and making progress from day one.”
Some players from the Blues squad and Wider Training Group will play for the development team throughout their season and Cadwallader believes those players will maintain the high standards already set for them in the Blues squad.
“We’ll be working closely with JK and his team. We want to embrace their culture and play a similar brand of rugby to them.”
The 2013 Blues Development Players are:
Forwards: Sam Prattley (ARU), Alex Wooten (NHRU), Matt Wallace (NRU), Gafatasi Su’a (ARU), Jack Whetton (ARU), Patrick Tuipolotu (ARU), Nathan Hughes (ARU), Sean Brookman (ARU), Jake Heenan (ARU), Nepia Fox-Matamua (ARU), William Whetton (NRU) and Cam Goodhue (NRU)
Backs: Wayne Ngaluafe (ARU), Simon Hickey (ARU), Cody Rei (NHRU), Sam Vaka (ARU), Derek Carpenter (NRU), Aula Silipa (ARU), Melani Vai (ARU) and David Raikuna (NHRU)