The ship is leaving the harbour
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.
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.
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 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.
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”