Blues News: Edition 19

Blues News: Edition 19

After 15 hard-fought games, we’re about to step on to the field for the final time this season. And for some of the players, it’ll be their last time in the blue jersey.
As tough as the season has been, it has been heartening to see the rallying cry from our loyal Blues fans and supporters. We had the privilege of meeting some of them on Monday night for dinner.
We’ve also been able to see some of the local high schools duke it out on Eden Park, the final one being on Friday night before Blues v Highlanders.
We’re so grateful to share these moments with you, read on to find out more about our past week.†

To bid farewell

This Friday night marks the end of an era for some of our Blues players. Keven Mealamu will be stepping on to the field for his last time in the Blues jersey. While Tony Woodcock, who is out from play with a shoulder injury, and Luke Braid, out with a concussion, will be sitting in the Blues players’ box for their final game.†
It’s been a difficult season for our team, but one in which the players have grown closer and united under the leadership team. Keven, Luke and Tony have each led the team in different manners and with different titles throughout the years.†
Luke made his Blues debut in 2011 against the Crusaders and has since earned 70 caps for the team. Before coming on board with the Blues, Luke earned nine caps for the Chiefs. But he leapt at the opportunity to move north and play with his brother, Daniel Braid.
ìThe Blues was always my favourite team with my brother playing for them,î he said. ìWhen I got the opportunity to leave the Chiefs and play for the Blues, I couldn’t turn that offer down and I never looked back.î
In 2014 Luke was named team captain at the age of 25, but first stepped up to the role in 2012 to fill in for Keven Mealamu when he was out with injury.
Keven and Tony will also be enjoying their final game with the team this Friday, but both still have some World Cup business to attend to.†
Kevvie will be farewelling his Blues jersey on an incredible (and world’s best) 175 Super Rugby caps, while Tony will be completing his Blues season with 149.

Our three leaders will be joined by a number of other players who’ve decided to take up contracts with other clubs. Join us on Friday night as we bid farewell to some great Blues men.

The battle for south Auckland

Two strong south Auckland schools lined up on Saturday night for the most recent KFC Curtain Raisers. De La Salle College and Otahuhu College took to the main field at Eden Park, both sides expecting a tough fight. But it was De La Salle who romped ahead, coming out on top 37-11.†
De La Salle earned six tries collectively during the 70 minutes, compared with Otahuhu’s one. Otahuhu College’s coach Leua Tamati said his team had adopted a new game plan and ìweren’t able to sustain itî for the full 70 minutes.†
ìWe were able to sustain enough pressure in the first half, but because we’re new to it we just didn’t have enough practice,î said Leua. ìDe La Salle played really well and they were a big team.î
For his part, De La Salle coach Andrew Va’a said that although he was happy with the score, the team still ìthrew away 20 points.î
ìOur fitness saw us through in the end, we were able to get on top of them and maintain pressure throughout the whole game,î Andrew said. ìAnd when we finally cracked them, we were able to score some points.î
The De La Salle team captain, Ben Sa’u, a member of the Blues Under-17 squad, said his team came out on to Eden Park with high intensity after a loss to Dilworth the week before. The anticipation of playing under the Eden Park lights also helped.†
ìThroughout this week, there was a lot of excitement about playing in one of the best stadiums in the world,î he said. ìBut we couldn’t let that get to our heads, we had to use that excitement as adrenaline for when we hit the field. And that really helped us today.î
Also helping were the throngs of De La Salle supporters, more than 400 of them, who cheered their First XV through every kick, carry and try.†
Our final KFC Curtain Raiser will be this Friday night between Orewa College and Westlake Boys’ High School before the Blues v Highlanders match. Kick-off is at 5.05pm and tickets can be purchased here.†
Photo: Amanda Chapman, De La Salle College

Meet and eat

The boys got to meet and dine with a whole collection of Blues fans and members on Monday night at the SKYCITY Dine with the Team event. Our team showed up in force to meet people like Stephanie and Andrew Thorpe, who have been Blues fans since 1996.†
ìI’ve always followed rugby since I was a little kid, I used to be supportive of Auckland before Super Rugby started and then naturally supported the Blues,î said Andrew.†
Stephanie and Andrew have brought their support for the team in to the home, with their six Samoyed dogs wearing Blues bandanas whenever they’re home for a game.†
ìOne of them gets really upset when we take the bandana off, he cries. But as soon as I pull them out of the wardrobe to put them on, he gets all excited and hyperactive waiting for me to put it on him,î said Stephanie.†
And the same loyalty goes for their ìparents.î
ìI find it hard not to be loyal, I’ll support them through thick and thin,î said Andrew. ìI kind of think they need the support now, more than ever.î
The two joined 90 other Blues supporters at Fortuna restaurant for the dinner, sitting with the team and getting to know more about each of the players.
Take a look at some more photos from the dinner on our Facebook page.
Keep following the Blues Facebook page for future events like this.