Blues News: Edition 21

Blues News: Edition 21

The much anticipated announcement last week that Tana Umaga has signed on as head coach marks the start of a new era at the Blues.†
Gaining success with Counties-Manukau in the ITM Cup, and most recently as part of the coaching team for the New Zealand Under-20’s World Championship, Tana’s coaching experience began first as player-coach then Head Coach and Director of Rugby for Toulon in France. Of course, it’s as a member of the Hurricanes and All Blacks that Tana became a household name and Kiwi hero.†
Speaking of All Blacks, this week we’re talking to a few of our players who are getting their first experience in the ABs camp.†
There’s plenty more going on at Blues HQ too. This week we share our plans for onboarding the next generation of Blues players, and set sail for the end of an era for Blues Beard’s pirate ship.†

The ship is leaving the harbour

We’re offering the chance to own a piece of Blues history by selling the custom-built pirate ship float, used by Blue Beard through years of Super Rugby history.

She came on board with the Blues in the early 2000s, because what’s a pirate without his ship. The Blues initially shared her with Westside Studios down in Wellington. We’d haul the float up from Wellington to Auckland at the start of the season and then back down again.

By 2009, she had become such a permanent fixture at Eden Park that we decided to spend $5000 and buy her outright. The float was towed around the field before each game, followed by a trail of blue smoke and the reverberations of cannon fire. Pyrotechnics accompanied the ship, creating an exciting display for Blues fans at Eden Park.

This unique piece of memorabilia that comes complete with a gangplank would make a fantastic Christmas parade float. For more info and to place your bid to win the booty, visit our Trade Me listing.

Going #neklevel

The All Blacks squad for the Samoa test, Investec Rugby Championship and Bledisloe Cup was recently announced.

The squad features five of our regular All Blacks ñ Keven Mealamu, Tony Woodcock, Jerome Kaino, Charles Piutau and Charlie Faumuina.

The past 10 days also brought some exciting news for two more members of the Blues family. Blues prop Ofa Tu’ungafasi and winger George Moala were both invited to train with the All Blacks as covers for the Highlanders and Hurricanes players who were still competing in the Super Rugby semi-finals.

We spoke to Ofa earlier this week about his out of the blue opportunity.

Like many Kiwi rugby fans, Ofa had woken up early on the morning of Sunday, June 21 to watch his younger brother Isi help take home the World U20 title for New Zealand.

Moving from the excitement of another world cup†victory for NZ rugby, Ofa hit the gym in the afternoon and heard who had been selected for the All Blacks squad.

ìI was looking at the team and thinking about how I would give making the All Blacks a crack next year,î he said. ìI wanted to start training straight away, so I went for a walk in the evening to see how I was recovering after my concussion. That’s when I got the call.î

It was the All Blacks team managers, wanting to know if Ofa would be available to provide training cover.

ìI started the day stoked, then I was a bit down for a bit after seeing the All Blacks selection and then I finished the day stoked again.î

For a week, Ofa and George have had a look into the atmosphere of one of the world’s best teams.

ìThere were a lot of meetings, with a lot of detail and a lot of things to take in, but it’s all clear,î said Ofa. ìI’ve always looked up to these guys and I know their on-field actions, but now I’m learning about what they do off-field.î

And he’s picking up some tips to bring back to the Blues for next season.

ìI can see the level that we’re trying to get to at the Blues,î he said. ìI’m new, but I already feel comfortable. I feel confident.î

ìThe more Blues guys we have in the All Blacks, the better. We’ll be able to bring the younger Blues guys up to the next level with confidence and feeling safe on the team.î

Also joining the All Blacks is Blues head Strength and Conditioning†Coach, Jason Price, who is helping the team train. The All Blacks will regroup today for another week of preparation†before next Wednesday’s test against Samoa.

Onboarding†the next generation

The Blues leading secondary school players are assembling at Mount Albert Grammar School this coming Sunday for the 2015 Blues Under 18 Development Squad Camp. Over 5 days they’ll receive coaching, education and a first-hand look at what a professional rugby environment is all about.

The camp is designed to give the players an insight into the life of a professional rugby player and to provide development around New Zealand Rugby’s key Development Pillars: Technical, Tactical, Nutrition, Physical, Mental and Personal Leadership.

Blues coaches and players alongside the ITM Cup Coaches from the region will deliver the camp’s coaching. New Blues Head Coach Tana Umaga will pop into MAGS during the week to see how the young players are performing.

Some of our current Blues players have experienced the camp first hand. The Ioane brothers, Blake Gibson, Tevita Li and recent signee Sam Nock all took part in recent U18 camps.

Sam was part of the Blues Under 18 Development Squad in 2014 and talked to us about what he learned.

ìThey talked a lot about invisible rugby, the things you do off the field like your work rate and your recovery,î Sam said. ìIt was a good stepping stone, because you competed against the best players in†from the Blues region†at camp and then afterwards they continued talking to me and kept me on track.î

Blues High Performance Manager, Tony Hanks, describes the camp as a tool for young athletes to ìunderstand the Blues’ purpose,†values and culture.î

“The camp plays a key role towards achieving our High Performance objectives around creating aspiration and enhancing the player’s readiness for professional rugby”

You can follow the next generation in training on our Facebook and Twitter feed throughout the week.