Blues News: Edition 18

Blues News: Edition 18

And we’re back! After a week’s break from Super Rugby competition, and a small rest for the team, we’re back and fired up for this weekend’s match against the Crusaders on Saturday night!

This week, we’re working with our match-day sponsor Barfoot & Thompson to celebrate the hard-working doctors and nurses at Starship Hospital. Come to the game dressed up as a doctor or nurse to honour the Starship heroes and you might just nab yourself some prizes while you’re at it!

This week’s Blues News visits the roots of some of our Blues family members, and previews the upcoming KFC Curtain Raiser between De La Salle College and Otahuhu College. To hear all about it, read on.

Taking a step back in time

The Blues have been taking the time to visit local high schools for team training over the past few weeks, the most recent being an excursion to De La Salle College.†

The Mangere East high school has produced a number of top sportsmen, including Kiwi Rugby League player Francis Leota and former Blues player Isaia Toeava. But there are two current members of the Blues family with a special connection to the school.†
Coach Sir John Kirwan graduated from De La Salle at the end of 1980 and Melani Nanai was at the school until his 5th form year in 2009, before he and his family returned to Samoa.

Kirwan has good memories of the school, but described it as ìpretty roughî to start with ñ that is until Brother Sir Patrick Lynch arrived as headmaster.
ìThe school really cleaned up when he arrived,î said JK. Our inspiring coach made his start in rugby on the back fields of the school, the very ones that his team trained on yesterday.

The team has been training in the community throughout the Blues’ 2015 season, an aspect that JK described as important for the team and for our supporters.
ìI think it’s really important that we get out in to the community and show the boys at school what it takes to be a professional sportsman,î he said. ìAnd it’s a good change of scenery for us as well, to get out of normality especially later on in the season.î†

Melani Nanai had a similar experience to his coach, getting his start in rugby at De La Salle.

ìIt feels good to be back, where it all started,î said Melani. ìThis is where I first wanted to play rugby.î†

PE teacher and rugby administrator, Nigel Hurst, influenced Melani to get involved in the sport. The 21-year-old is now a fully fledged member of the Blues team after earning accolades in the 2014 Blues Development Squad.

Southern clash

The KFC Curtain Raisers are back in action along with the Blues this coming Saturday, after a week off for the bye.†This week we’ll see the battle of the South take place with De La Salle College facing off against Otahuhu College.†

Both teams are in the 1A competition and have faced each other twice in the last two years, Otahuhu College coming out on top for both games. The school’s head coach, Leua Tamati, said that the coming match will be a challenge for his young team, most are in Year 11 and the youngest being in Year 10.†

ìHopefully it’ll be a good game,î said Leua. ìWe’re hoping to build on some very poor results to date due to poor attendance (in the classroom) and injuries keeping players off the field.î†

The team is looking forward to the opportunity to play on Eden Park.
ìFor some of them, this may be the only time they get to play on such a great field,î he said.†
Keep an eye out for the team’s captain, Jacob Iakopo. Jacob was in the Blues Under-18 team for 2014 and a stand-out player for Otahuhu College at the Blues 10s tournament so we’re expecting some action from the inside centre.†
De La Salle College captain, Ben Sa’u, was a member of the Blues Under-17 development squad in 2015 so there’ll be no shortage of up and coming talent on the field this Saturday.†

De La Salle coach Andrew Va’a said that his team’s result to date has been ìmediocreî with one loss, one draw and two wins, but he’s looking forward to seeing how the boys perform at Eden Park.†

ìThere’s a lot of incentive for us to play this weekend. It’s a turning point for our season, we’re focussing hard on trying to rectify a lot of our errors,î he said. ìAnd with Eden Park, who wouldn’t be excited to play there.î†
ìHaving the Blues here to train this week has pumped up the hype for this weekend.î†

The team’s first five and wingers are coming back from injury, so should be in flying form for the southern clash at Eden Park.†
 
Kick-off will be at 5.05pm and supporters can purchase a combined Curtain Raiser and Blues v Crusaders ticket for the match online or at the Gate A ticket office.

Inspired for men’s health

June is Men’s Health Month, an opportunity to raise awareness around healthy eating, thinking and living for men ñ a topic close to the Blues’ heart. To launch Men’s Health Month, Men’s Health Trust New Zealand is hosting their INSPIRING STORIES Annual Breakfast on Monday 8 June at The Dome, Auckland Museum.

The event will kick off with breakfast provided by celebrity chef Michael Van de Elzen followed by three speakers who’ll share their inspiring stories, including Blues prop Angus Ta’avao.

Gus is one of our more gregarious props. At 6’4î and 124kg, Ta’avao is not only a powerhouse physically but also socially with his natural gift for entertaining.

The morning’s line-up also includes speakers Carew Hatherley, Allan Pollard, and ZM’s Paul Flynn aka Flynny, will be the MC.

Men’s Health Trust New Zealand is a not-for-profit trust established in 2007 as a national charity. Their purpose is to inspire men to make positive and rewarding lifestyle choices by providing education programmes, research and information that encourage and promote good health.

Newstalk ZB Men’s Health Breakfast
The Dome, Auckland Museum
Monday 8 June, 7-9am
$840 + gst for a table of 10
Individual tickets also available

Limited tickets still available, to book email ingrid@menshealthnz.org.nz