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Charlie Faumuina

Charlie Faumuina

All Black prop Charlie Faumuina has bucked the trend and re-committed to the Blues and New Zealand Rugby to the end of 2017.

One of the most mobile props in the game, 28-year-old Faumuina has established himself as a dominant and versatile tighthead, with the ability to play both sides of the scrum.

He has re-signed to play in New Zealand in 2016 and in 2017.

New Zealand Rugby Chief Executive Steve Tew welcomed Faumuina’s recommitment as a great result for the All Blacks and Blues.

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Peter Saili

Peter Saili

New Zealand flanker Peter Saili has signed for French Top 14 side Bordeaux-Begles, club president Laurent Marti confirmed on Friday.

Saili, 27, who recently left Blues after 5 years and 71 Super Rugby matches with the club, has penned a 2-and-a-half year deal with the western French side.

Saili, who will join his new club later this month, is the second Blues player to sign for Bordeaux after compatriot Luke Braid, who arrives next season for 2 years.

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George Moala

George Moala

Blues’ George Moala has been found guilty of assault with intent to cause injury and common assault following a nasty brawl in 2012.

George Moala was found guilty of assault with intent to injure. He was found not guilty on two other charges of assault.

The 12-person jury took about five hours to deliver its verdict at the Auckland district court but not before posing a question seeking clarification on the definition of intention.

On hearing the verdict for George Moala, family members and supporters of the Moala brothers in the courtroom sat in shocked, tearful silence.

The Moala family made no comment outside court, and neither did George Moala’s lawyer Paul Wicks.

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George Moala

George Moala

The Blues’ pre-season preparations continue to be disrupted by unwanted distractions.

The New Zealand Media and Entertainment services reported that Blues player George Moala went on trial on Monday for a late-night incident that took place more than a year ago.

This follows last Friday’s reports that the Blues’ Super Rugby pre-season training almost ended in disaster, when close to 30 players had to be fished out of the water by sea rescue.

According to the NZME report Moala is on trial for an attack on two men in a boozy nightclub brawl. He stands accused of having continued the assault on one as he was carried away, bleeding profusely.

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BluesThe Blues’ Super Rugby pre-season training almost ended in disaster on Friday, when close to 30 players had to be fished out of the water by sea rescue.

This happened when a training session in the Hauraki Gulf went wrong, with two waka swamped by waves during a paddle from Takapuna Beach to Rangitoto Island.

The team had been planning to paddle nearly five kilometres across to Rangitoto in the Hauraki Gulf then run to the summit, but the training exercise was cut short.

The team tweeted about the embarrassing outcome of the pre-season trip – which, though unpleasant, did not cause any major problems.

Coach John Kirwan also issued a statement to the New Zealand media, confirming that all team members had escaped unharmed following the scare.

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Super RugbyWith Super Rugby fast approaching it is important to have a look at what each of the teams are doing in their preparations and who they have at their disposal.

As the teams prepare for this brusing competition there is the oppourtunity to test out combanations as well as see how the new boys go.

The Sharks will travel to French champions Toloun to test out their game plan against the Galacticos of rugby while the Bulls will take on the Cheetahs in a traditional pre-season match in Polokwane.

The Australasian sides will also warm up against each other with the Highlanders setting up a comprehensive pre-season schedule due to the first round bye.

The ‘transfer market’ has made the upcoming Super Rugby season an exciting prospect with some big names in James O’Connor and Nick Cummins returning to Australia.

Menawhile, the Bulls have bolstered their squad with some excellent former Cheetahs players.

Finally, and unsurprizingly, Ma’a Nonu has made another move – this time back to the Hurricanes.

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Luke Braid

Luke Braid

Jayden Spence

Jayden Spence

Versatile New Zealand back Jayden Spence is to join Bordeaux-Begles as cover while compatriot Luke Braid will arrive next season for two years, the French Top 14 outfit said on Sunday.

Spence, 23, who can play on the wing or in the centre, currently turns out for Otago in the domestic New Zealand league.

The 1.71m, 91kg back joins as cover for a Bordeaux side currently missing injured French international wing Sofiane Guitoune.

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Super RugbyIn preparation for Super Rugby in 2015, all 5 New Zealand Super Rugby franchises have named their squads for the tournament.

In the meantime, South African franchises will ponder about their squads and in December we at Rugby-Talk.com will speculate what the South African franchises will look like, as final squads will only be known in January 2015.

The same happens every year, New Zealand and Australia get their ducks in a row before the December break, whereas the South Africans seem to focus on December holidays, going to the beach, having Christmas and generally geting fat and lazy.

When can we ever expect the South African Rugby Union (SARU) and the South African Super Rugby franchises to ever catch up to the more professional attitudes displayed primarily by New Zealand… but also closely followed by their Antipodion counterparts, Australia?

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David Hill

David Hill

Former All Black David Hill will join the coaching team at the Blues for the forthcoming Super Rugby season.

Hill will take up the role as backs skills coach for the Blues, to complete their coaching group for the 2015 season under head coach Sir John Kirwan and assistant coaches Grant Doorey and Glenn Moore.

He has enjoyed a long career including representation for the All Blacks, Maori All Blacks, Junior All Blacks, more than 50 games for the Chiefs and the 2010 Super Rugby season for the Force.

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Jimmy Cowan

SOUTHERN MAN: He may be from Southland, but Jimmy Cowan will ply his trade from Auckland next year in Super Rugby.

The Blues have confirmed the signing of former All Blacks halfback Jimmy Cowan for next season.

Cowan played 51 tests for the All Blacks and 108 games for the Highlanders before a two-year stint with English club Gloucester.

The 32-year-old, who was playing for Tasman in the NPC, would fill the void left by Piri Weepu’s departure and compete with incumbent Bryn Hall.

“Jimmy brings competitiveness, plenty of experience and great game awareness which is something we were really looking for,” Blues coach Sir John Kirwan said.

“We’ve got some good young guys coming through in Bryn Hall, Ihaia West and Simon Hickey coupled with Dan Bowden coming back but we still felt we were lacking a bit of experience through that combination.

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Glenn Moore

NO PROBLEMS ADJUSTING: Newly appointed Blues assistant Glenn Moore in his days as Highlanders’ head coach.

Former Highlanders coach Glenn Moore will take charge of the Blues forward pack for the next two years.

Moore will join the Blues fulltime at the conclusion of the Heartland Championship – he is the current Mid Canterbury head coach – and replace All Blacks skills coach Mick Byrne, who stepped down at this end of last season.

Auckland-born Moore partners head coach Kirwan and assistant Grant Doorey in the coaching team with a back skills coach, who will fill Sir Graham Henry’s void, to be appointed in the coming weeks.

Moore reckons none of his Super Rugby charges will phone to say they can’t make training because the cow shed roof has blown off in a big storm.

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Luke Braid

LEADING THE WAY: Luke Braid says he still has a lot to achieve in New Zealand rugby

Captain Luke Braid headlines a quartet of Blues players who have recommitted to the franchise for the next Super Rugby season.

Braid, fellow flanker Brendon O’Connor and wing Frank Halai have all signed one-year deals with the Blues while halfback Bryn Hall has re-signed until the end of 2016.

The 25-year-old Braid was a consistently high performer this season, despite carrying a shoulder injury for most of the year, and still has high ambitions in New Zealand. “I’m still incredibly motivated to win something with the Blues and continue to try and make the All Blacks,” Braid said.

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New Zealand Conference
For those who might have watched the episode of Boots & All on Thursday 17 July, you might have heard John Mitchell refer to an article he read surrounding the New Zealand teams and conference.

Rugby-Talk exclusively brings you the article in question, and we must agree with John, it does make for some interesting reading.

Just how level are the current playing fields in Super Rugby, if all sides don’t face the same opposition, and what are the possible consequences thereof on the final standings?

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It's almost like the Blues' failure has been brushed aside because it's expected. Photo / APN

It’s almost like the Blues’ failure has been brushed aside because it’s expected. Photo / APN

The Blues are consistent – 10th last year and again this season.

That’s the upshot of winning 13 games and losing 19 in the two seasons John Kirwan has been in charge of a franchise which has flowered intermittently since their last 2003 title success.

It’s almost like the Blues’ failure has been brushed aside because it’s expected, that’s what they do, they are stuck in a cycle of under-achievement.

As most of the New Zealand focus turns to the work of the Crusaders, Highlanders and Chiefs in the playoffs, the Blues will go through their season debriefs and make plans for next year before delivering another version of onwards and upwards rhetoric.

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Special EditionSuper RugbyLike every fine season of Super Rugby, all is not revealed until the final weekend of the regular season, and the 2014 campaign, and 19th tournament overall of the Southern Hemisphere’s premier provincial competition, will be no different.

However congratulations must be offered to the Waratahs, who offered one piece of clarity over the weekend with their 44-16 win over the Highlanders.

With that, the Waratahs has for the first time qualified as the top-ranked team after the regular season, and become the ninth franchise in history to finish as ‘minor premiers’.

For coach Michael Cheika and his troops, this will be a significant fact even though he was quick to remind all who would listen that the Super Rugby Finals Series would be another step up for a team that looks the goods.

However, as Cheika correctly pointed out, there will be teams with more experience at this stage of the season and this is a crucial factor for potential champions.

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Tony Woodcock

Tony Woodcock

Luke Braid

Luke Braid

The Blues will be without veteran All Blacks prop Tony Woodcock and captain Luke Braid for their crunch Super Rugby match against the Chiefs at Eden Park on Friday.

Woodcock suffered a shoulder injury during last week’s loss to the Crusaders and with a six day turnaround coach John Kirwan felt he would not be fully fit and it was not worth risking him.

“Woody’s had a great season for us so it’s a big loss. He’s been quite outstanding really and one of our best players since he’s been back,” Kirwan said.

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Piri Weepu

Piri Weepu leading the Haka

London Welsh are today expected to announce the signing of Piri Weepu from the Auckland Blues, according to reliable sources.

It marks another huge signing in their already impressive recruitment drive, with the 71-cap All Black set to bring real experience of rugby at the very top level. He will join the likes of Olly Barkley and Tim Molenaar in what is starting to look like a very useful back line.

Weepu’s career is yet to take him outside of New Zealand, beginning his career in Wellington both for the ITM Cup side and the Hurricanes, before moving to Auckland and the Blues. It is understood that he has expressed a desire to play in the Aviva Premiership.

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Ihaia West

Ihaia West

Hawke’s Bay and Maori All Blacks flyhalf Ihaia West has signed with the Blues for the 2015 and 2016 Super Rugby seasons.

It has been a remarkable rise for the 22-year-old livewire who was without a Super Rugby contract at the start of the year and joined the Blues in April to provide cover for the injured Baden Kerr.

West has become a revelation for the franchise, claiming the number 10 jersey for the last three games and leading the team around the field with aplomb.

Blues head coach Sir John Kirwan lauded West’s temperament and was delighted to retain his services for the next two years.

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Keven MealamuKeven Mealamu will become the first player to reach the remarkable milestone of 150 games for the Blues when he runs out to face the Crusaders in Christchurch on Saturday night.

The talismanic hooker has already racked up 160 Super Rugby appearances including his season with the Chiefs in 2000, but will play his 150th game for the Blues against the Red and Blacks.

The All Blacks centurion is only two matches away from equalling the record held by Nathan Sharpe for the most Super Rugby appearances (162), and is second only to Colin Meads in first class games after playing his 350th match against the Force on Saturday.

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Beauden Barrett

Beauden Barrett

All Black Beauden Barrett may be in the market, but he is definitely not on the Blues’ wishlist.

Barrett revealed that he is likely to resolves the issues around his future next week, when the Hurricanes have a bye.

However, he should be expecting a call from Blues coach John Kirwan, who said he would be looking internally for a flyhalf.

It followed speculation the Hurricanes playmaker, Barrett, could be moving to Auckland.

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CrusadersHurricanesHighlandersChiefsBluesThere is just six competition points separating the five New Zealand Conference teams, but with four intense local derbies to come, there is no chance of the Kiwi teams dominating the 2014 Super Rugby Finals Series.

The Crusaders and Highlanders destinies are in their own hands, although in a delicious twist of fate those two meet in the final round so that clash could be for a top six berth.

The Hurricanes, just one point behind, do not have their fate completely in their own hands, one of just two teams with only one fixture remaining.

The Blues and Chiefs need results to go their way if they are to survive.

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BluesSteven Luatua returns to the starting fifteen of the Blues for Saturday’s clash against the Force in Perth.

The 23-year-old blindside flanker has not featured in the run-on side since Round 10 against the Hurricanes after being squeezed out by the in-form Peter Saili, but head coach Sir John Kirwan said it was time to give Luatua an opportunity.

“He’s been away with the All Blacks and he’s come back full of energy and I think he needs an opportunity to push his way back into the side,” Kirwan said.

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Luke Braid

Luke Braid

Blues openside flanker Luke Braid will have shoulder surgery during Super Rugby’s off-season, which rules him out of Auckland’s ITM Cup campaign.

The 25-year-old has been superb for his team this season but has been feeling pain during his showings, leading to him making the decision.

“It had got to the point where it was hurting more frequently,” Braid said.

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Jerome Kaino

Jerome Kaino

Jerome Kaino always knew that coming back to New Zealand from Japan in an attempt to make the All Blacks again would be tough, not just because of the quality of fellow loose forward contenders.

The rise in intensity from Japan’s top flight to the southern hemisphere’s Super Rugby competition has also been an eye-opener.

“I wouldn’t say it has been easy,” the Auckland Blues forward said at All Blacks’ training in Wellington on Monday.

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Dan Bowden

Dan Bowden

Dan Bowden is coming home after signing with New Zealand Rugby and the Blues for the 2015 and 2016 Super Rugby seasons.

28-year-old Bowden, a former Highlander and Crusader, has been playing rugby in England since 2010 and is relishing the opportunity of returning to Auckland where he grew up.

“I’m really excited to be returning home along with my four-month-old baby and wife. I had opportunities to stay in the UK but coming back to be around my family and playing for the Blues is something I’ve always wanted to do,” Bowden said.

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New Zealand Super Rugby Franchise Jerseys with child names

New Zealand Super Rugby Franchise Jerseys with child names

The jerseys of the five New Zealand Super Rugby teams will look slightly different this weekend.

All of the jerseys being worn by the five New Zealand-based Super Rugby squads have been customised for Round 15 with the name of a different child.

It was done as part of a charity initiative run by the BNZ in aid of Plunket – New Zealand’s largest provider of support services for the development, health and well-being of children under the age of 5.

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Special EditionSuper RugbyThe lowest mark for a Super Rugby Finals Series qualifier over recent years has been 53, meaning that this season one can mathematically assume in 2014 at least 45 points gives a team a chance of playing knockout rugby.

Remember 8 less points are on offer in 2014 with nothing awarded for a bye.

The Melbourne Rebels are now out of calculations, for while a potentially brilliant perfect 25 from 25 points in their closing run covers the rudimentary maths, they would need to rely on a perfect maelstrom of losing chaos at the top of the table.

The Blues, although 1oth and in a precarious position on the Log, have 5 games left, but from hereon in it is crunch time for them. They almost need a flawless run from here and a loss to the Sharks, will certainly put them out of the running on the weekend.

For the Vodacom Bulls, it becomes doubly difficult now, they only have 4 games left, compared to 5 by most of the teams above them in the pecking order. One more loss, and you can write them off. They need a near perfect run in their 4 games, earning at least 17 Log points from 4 games, so that means at least one bonus point try win and the rest all wins.

Evaluation in reverse order:

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BluesLuke BraidLuke Braid returns from injury to captain the Blues against the Sharks at QBE Stadium in North Harbour on Friday night.

The openside flanker missed the last two games against the Chiefs and Reds with a shoulder injury, but after another week off with the bye Braid is back to full fitness and raring to go.

“It was really important to make sure we gave Luke time to recover from his shoulder,” Blues head coach Sir John Kirwan said.

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  • Victoriabok 26 Jan 2015, 21:08 SAST - IAAS wrote: Sometimes you have to wonder what guys really do in the off-season. Injuries happen, yes. But players are...
  • IAAS 26 Jan 2015, 20:16 SAST - Victoriabok wrote: > What’s the problem at the Bulls, the players keep tearing their titties? Sometimes you have to wonder...
  • MacroBull 26 Jan 2015, 20:14 SAST - @ smallies: Ja nee hulle gaan seker jafta baseer in kaapstad. Dan is die jaar se conference cup verseker hulle...
  • smallies 26 Jan 2015, 19:48 SAST - voor ek waai... ek sien die cheetahs en bulls het al kla ten minste twee games elk in die super...
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