Wednesday, March 6, 2013

The Blues are Back in Town

After a few years in the doldrums, rugby in Auckland is back on the radar. For good reason the Breakers basketball team had become the darling of Auckland sports fans with its inspirational winning style and teamship. Rugby on the other hand was characterised by insipid performances and patchy leadership.

A few weeks back Iain Abercrombie facilitated a session between the Blues hierarchy and me to Purpose the franchise for 2013. Chairman Gary Whetton, CEO Andy Dalton and Head Coach Sir John Kirwan couldn’t have been more open, more ambitious and more determined.

Two games into the Super Rugby season, it looks like the tide is turning. New coach Sir JK and captain Ali Williams have got a young team with a taste for winning. NZ Herald’s Marc Hinton wrote after Friday’s game:

John Kirwan's youthful Blues dismantled the seven-time champion Crusaders 34-15, five tries to nil, in front of more than 31,000 joyous fans at Eden Park on Friday night.

Two Super Rugby games, two wins and a maximum 10 points in the bank. Even the prince of positivity, Sir JK, admits he's surprised by how well his team has started this rebuilding year. Foundations laid, this thing will be a skyscraper soon the way work is progressing.

Kirwan conceded a "high-skill, high-tempo, high-impact" approach was going to bring its anxious moments but felt his players had to be trusted to deliver a style they were committed to. "It's a balance we need to find. I think the boys have gone a long way to finding that right balance."

Sport is a game of endless speculation and I have long since learned not to make predictions – but I am confirming that my hometown team has got its mojo back. Beat a pathway to Eden Park.

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