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Sir John Kirwan

Sir John Kirwan

Tana Umaga

Tana Umaga

Sir John Kirwan:

Blues rugby legend Sir John Kirwan has resigned his role as head coach of the organisation.

Kirwan, who has been head coach for 3 years, has announced that he will not seek reappointment for a further term as coach and will step aside, effective immediately.

While Kirwan had put up a proposal to the Blues board for his continued involvement, he said that he had reconsidered over the past few days after talking with his family, colleagues and friends.

“I had a chance to take a breath and reflect about the situation, my future and above all my love of this Blues club and the players,” Kirwan said.

“People who know me well know that I do not walk away from a challenge and that was what was driving me because I know what has been set-up in terms of organisational structure in the last 2 years.

“However I always said that if I didn’t bring about the results that the players, the club and the fans wanted, then I would step aside.”

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Luke Braid

Luke Braid

Tony Woodcock

Tony Woodcock

Keven Mealamu

Keven Mealamu

The Blues have plenty to play for in their final Super Rugby match of the season, against the Highlanders at Eden Park on Friday.

Iconic hooker Keven Mealamu will lead the team in his 175th and final Super Rugby match, while fellow All Black James Parsons will come off the bench for his 50th cap for the Blues.

Friday also marks the end of an era for some of the Blues’ longest serving players.

Mealamu will be stepping on to the field for his last time in the Blues jersey.

Tony Woodcock, who is out from play with a shoulder injury, and Luke Braid out with a concussion, will be sitting in the Blues players’ box for their final game.

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Charles Piutau

Charles Piutau

Charles Piutau has been told by the New Zealand Rugby Union that he cannot play for the Blues next year.

The 23-year-old, has accepted a deal with Pro12 club Ulster midway through the 2016 year, and he wanted to play for the Blues before he left.

If Piutau was allowed to continue playing in Auckland next year he would be available for more than 10 of the Blues Super Rugby games in the 2016 season before his obligations at Ulster began.

However NZRU has denied the opportunity for the 23-year-old to continue playing for the Blues next year, applying its regulation that Super Rugby players must available for All Blacks Test duty.

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Patrick Tuipulotu

Patrick Tuipulotu

Steven Luatua

Steven Luatua

It is an unlucky 13 for the Blues, with 13 players on the injury list, including 4 players who are unlikely to play again in the final 4 weeks of the Super Rugby regular season.

Joining captain Jerome Kaino and Luke Braid on the long term injured list are All Blacks Steven Luatua and Patrick Tuipulotu.

Luatua, the stand-in captain for Kaino, dislocated his shoulder in the win over the Bulls on Friday and with the associated nerve damage, will not return for the Blues final 3 games. Tuipulotu has a long-term hip injury that has worsened and he, too, is unlikely to make it back in the next 4 weeks.

Both players require further tests prior to any decisions about their prognosis and management.

Joining them on the unavailable list this week is Tony Woodcock with a shoulder injury sustained in a collapsed scrum in the match against the Bulls and Charlie Faumuina who is on All Blacks leave.

Others not considered for this week’s match include Pita Ahki (hamstring), Dan Bowden (groin) and Bryn Hall (foot).

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Sir John Kirwan

Sir John Kirwan

New Zealand Rugby has been forced to mediate a dispute between the Auckland Rugby Union and private owners for control of the Blues.

The Super Rugby franchise has been divided for the last fortnight due to a disagreement over whether to retain Blues coach John Kirwan or look for a replacement next season.

New Zealand Rugby released a statement from chief executive Steve Tew on Sunday explaining that he has been forced to try and resolve the issue.

“New Zealand Rugby confirms that it has been involved in discussions with the Blues shareholders,” the statement read.

“As a consequence it is apparent there are some relationship issues amongst shareholders and we have offered to mediate. We hope all parties will accept this offer so we can together resolve this issue. Because we are in the middle of discussions, we are unable to comment further at this time,” he added.

There has been tension for some time between the 2 stakeholders over which of them has control of the franchise, and Tew was apparently asked to step in by the private investors.

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Tabai Matson

Tabai Matson

Crusaders Assistant Coach Tabai Matson has confirmed that he is committed to his current role at the Crusaders, despite reports linking him with the Blues.

Matson said he wanted nothing more than to help the Crusaders towards the Super Rugby Finals Series this season and he was sorry about any unnecessary distraction that the speculation around his future has caused.

“I love this team and I certainly was not out looking for a new coaching role because I am very happy here. It is true that I was approached by the Blues about whether I would consider a move to their coaching team in the future should the opportunity arise.

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Charlie Faumuina

Charlie Faumuina

Charlie Faumuina returns to form an all-All Black front for the Blues, and provide some experience, against a powerful Bulls selection on Friday.

There’s a very youthful look about the Blues team for this Round 14 Super Rugby encounter in Auckland.

The Blues have been hit by injuries, with 8 senior players ruled out – including Jerome Kaino, Luke Braid, Bryn Hall, Charles Piutau, Hayden Triggs, Hamish Northcott, Patrick Tuipulotu and Dan Bowden.

While veteran All Black hooker Keven Mealamu adds some additional experience and firepower on the bench, there are a number of young guns looking to make their Super Rugby debuts – lock Will Lloyd, scrumhalf Jamie Booth and midfield back Matt Vaega.

In-form loose forward Akira Ioane will start again, after this week being named in the New Zealand Under 20 team for the Junior World Cup – along with Blues teammates Blake Gibson, Tevita Li and apprentice Isa Tu’ungafasi.

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Steven Luatua

Steven Luatua

24-Year old All Black Steven Luatua has been named to lead the Blues for the rest of the Super Rugby season after captain Jerome Kaino was ruled out with injury.

Luatua, who could play his 50th game for the Blues before the end of the season, was selected with an eye to the future and with the full endorsement of Kaino and Super Rugby’s most enduring player, 170-Super Rugby game veteran, Keven Mealamu.

The rangy and super-skilful loose forward sought the advice of his illustrious All Black teammates before agreeing to take on the role.

“I was a bit in shock and left for words. I am really humbled and at the same time gutted about the injury to Jerome,” Luatua said.

“Growing up as a kid in the region, this is something you aspire to. We still have Kevie but he believes this is the best direction to head in so I will give it my best shot.”Coach Sir John Kirwan said while the side will certainly miss Kaino both as a player and a leader, it was an excellent opportunity for the future to promote Luatua.

“We recognise Steven as a future leader in the club. The experience will help Steven grow as a leader and player and it will be a great support for Jerome in the coming years,” Kirwan said.

Despite the injury list, the new captain wants the Blues to finish the season strongly, with 4 games at their home base of Eden Park to follow Friday’s match against the Melbourne Rebels.

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George Moala

George Moala

Blues back George Moala has been discharged without conviction for an assault committed in 2012.

Moala was found guilty on 1 charge of assault in January and released on bail. At his sentencing the court discharged the Blues player, effectively closing the matter.

In a statement, the Blues and New Zealand rugby were happy to accept the outcome of the court, however there remains an employment process to be conducted.

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Super RugbyThe Vodacom Bulls are back at the Top of the South African Conference, taking over from the DHL Stormers who came up short in Bloemfontein on an exhilarating Saturday of Vodacom Super Rugby.

The weekend started on a disappointing note for the Cell C Sharks in Dunedin though. After a solid start for the visitors, the Highlanders turned on the heat and eventually beat the Durbanites by 48 / 15 in their opening tour match Down Under.

Saturday saw 2 cracking local derbies, both won by the home teams.

1st Up, the Toyota Cheetahs caused a minor upset when they won their 3rd successive home game against the DHL Stormers in Bloemfontein, by 25 / 17.

The home team outscored the visitors by 3 tries to 2 and thoroughly deserved their 4th win of the season. It was also only the 3rd time in 14 matches that the DHL Stormers could not score any Log Points against the Toyota Cheetahs.

The final match of the weekend was a proper humdinger in Pretoria, where the Vodacom Bulls beat their neighbours, the Emirates Lions, by 35 / 33. A total of 7 tries were scored as both sides went hammer and tongs against each other for the full 80 minutes.

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Jerome Kaino

Jerome Kaino

Charles Piutau

Charles Piutau

The battling Blues may have to do without All Blacks duo Jerome Kaino and Charles Piutau for the rest of the season.

The Auckland side picked up their 2nd win of the season against the Western Force on Saturday, but the victory came at a dear price with skipper Jerome Kaino and fullback Charles Piutau both going down injured.

Abrasive loose forward Kaino sustained a compound fracture of his finger which saw the bone pop out of his skin, potentially sidelining him for 2 months.

Ulster-bound Piutau suffered another injury to his left knee, with suspected medial ligament damage which would be a recurrence of an injury that kept him out of the game for 2 months last year.

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Keven Mealamu

Keven Mealamu

Keven Mealamu has been handed the Blues’ captaincy in the absence of regular skipper Jerome Kaino.

The veteran hooker, Mealamu, will lead the team out against the Crusaders in a Super Rugby Round 11 clash in Christchurch on Saturday.

Kaino has been given time out, as part of an agreement with the All Black management, after playing in 8 of the Blues’ 9 games.

He will be joined on the sidelines by fellow All Blacks James Parsons and Charles Piutau, who get their 1st break.

On the flipside props Tony Woodcock and Charlie Faumuina will join Mealamu in an all-All Black front row – boasting 260 Test caps and 383 Super Rugby games collectively between them.

Steven Luatua returns to play at No 8, with teenager Akira Ioane given a 2nd game after his impressive debut last week.

Jimmy Cowan returns to start at scrumhalf, with Lolagi Visinia at fullback.

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Jerome Kaino

Jerome Kaino

Blues coach John Kirwan is set to give his most prolific player, captain Jerome Kaino, a break when they head to Christchurch this week.

The Blues, with just 1 win from 9 starts, are 2nd from last on the Combined Log.

However, they have build some great momentum in recent weeks – their maiden season win (16 / 14) over the Brumbies was followed by a close loss (24 / 30) against Highlanders in Dunedin at the weekend.

It was the Blues’ 5th losing bonus point – for finishing within 7 points or less of the opposition – and indication that they are much better than their lowly position on the table suggest.

However, Kirwan won’t be tempted to push the All Black loose forward, Kaino, in another game – despite the desperate need or another win.

He knows they are faced with a massive hurdle in the form of an equally desperate Crusaders team in Christchurch on Saturday.

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BrumbiesThe Brumbies have named an unchanged starting side Friday’s Super Rugby clash against the Blues having come through last week’s win over the Toyota Cheetahs unscathed.

On the bench JP Smith reclaims his spot as back-up prop with Allan Alaalatoa dropping out of the match-day 23.

Given the Blues strength up front and unpredictability in the backs, the game promises to be a massive battle which will test the Brumbies across the park.

Brumbies and Wallabies prop Scott Sio said his side would need to be on top its game to make and impact on Friday night.

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BluesBlues head coach Sir John Kirwan has named a Super Rugby team with 4 changes to the side that lost to the Chiefs for this week’s clash against the Brumbies at Eden Park.

3 Of the Blues 4 changes are in the forwards, as James Parsons comes in to replace Keven Mealamu at hooker and Patrick Tuipulotu replaces Hayden Triggs.

There will be blazer games (20 matches) for Patrick Tuipulotu and Ofa Tu’ungafasi with Sam Prattley playing off the bench.

On the flank the recently re-signed Steven Luatua is rotated to the bench and Luke Braid takes over at No 6. When Steven Luatua comes off the bench it will be his 44th game for the Blues.

Kirwan has opted for 2 openside loose forwards to start against the speedy Brumbies loosies.

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Steven Luatua

Steven Luatua

Outstanding loose forward Steven Luatua has pledged his allegiance to the Blues and New Zealand Rugby for a further 2 years.

The burly flank has re-signed through to the end of the 2017 season.

Luatua defies his 23 years, having already played 14 Tests for the All Blacks and 43 Super Rugby caps for the Blues.

He has a rich pedigree as a former New Zealand school representative and played in successive Junior World Championship-winning New Zealand Under 20 teams – in 2010 and 2011.

He made his provincial debut as a teenager in 2010, his debut for the Blues in 2012 and his All Blacks debut the following year in the 24 / 9 victory over France in New Zealand.

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Francis Saili

Francis Saili

Munster confirmed today the signing of Blues centre Francis Saili on a 2-year contract.

The 24 year-old has made 33 Super Rugby appearances for the Blues, scoring 5 tries, and represented Auckland in the NPC on 31 occasions.

Saili made his debut for the All Blacks against Argentina in September 2013 at Hamilton, and was part of the New Zealand Under 20 team that won the Junior World Championship in Italy in 2011.

Last November the Auckland native also featured for the Barbarians, scoring a try against Australia in Twickenham.

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Jerome Kaino

Jerome Kaino

Inspirational loose forward Jerome Kaino has committed himself for the next 3 years to New Zealand Rugby, the Blues and Auckland Rugby.

Kaino today announced he has re-signed to play his rugby in New Zealand until 2018.

It’s a major announcement for New Zealand Rugby, with Kaino the 1st current All Black to commit through to 2018. The news is also a significant fillip for the Blues following the announcement earlier this year that fellow All Black Charlie Faumuina has re-signed through to the end of 2017.

Kaino, 31, has been a powerhouse loose forward on the international and Super Rugby stage for many years. He was New Zealand Rugby’s Player of the Year and nominee for World Rugby Player in 2011 and played in every game of the All Blacks’ Rugby World Cup victory that year. Kaino played 2 seasons in Japan before returning to play for the Blues last year and regained his place in the All Blacks.

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Sir John Kirwan

Sir John Kirwan

Blues coach John Kirwan knows his team must beat the Chiefs if they are to have any hope of contending for a play-off spot this season.

The Auckland side have made a horror start to the season, losing all 6 of their matches, and Kirwan knows that they must beat the Chiefs in Hamilton on Saturday to keep their feint play-off hope alive.

“We knew going in we had to win 1 of these 2 games away to stay in the hunt. We were hoping that was going to come tonight, so that doubles the pressure on next week,” the Blues coach said after the loss to the defending champion Waratahs on Saturday.

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Blues vs Lions

The Blues went down to their fourth-straight loss of the Super Rugby campaign on Saturday as they lost 13 / 10 to the Lions at QBE Stadium in North Harbour.

Errors aplenty, low confidence in attack and a failure to turn pressure into points cost the Blues as they crashed to a disappointing home defeat.

Meanwhile, the Lions will take their smash and grab victory with both hands as they head to the Crusaders with a tour win under their belt.

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Sir John Kirwan

Sir John Kirwan

The New Zealand media have turned on an iconic All Black in the wake of the Blues’ winless start to the Super Rugby season.

The Blues slumped to their 4th straight loss, a first for the 3-time former champions, after a willing and determined Emirates Lions team edged them 13 / 10 in Albany on Saturday.

The result, which leaves the Blues at the bottom of the Combined Log standings with just 2 losing bonus points to show for their efforts, has sparked calls for coach John Kirwan’s dismissal.

Under the headline ‘Blues lose to Lions, is Kirwan a goner?’ ONE News suggested that you can “hear the blades sharpening in Auckland”.

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Keven Mealamu

Keven Mealamu

Inspirational Blues and All Blacks hooker Keven Mealamu will establish a new Super Rugby record in Saturday’s clash with the Lions in Albany.

Mealamu has been named in the Auckland-based team’s starting line-up which will be his 163rd appearance in Super Rugby. This will make him the all-time leader in Super Rugby, a mark he currently shares with retired former Reds, Force and Wallabies lock Nathan Sharpe.

It is the first game of the season for Mealamu who made his debut in 2000.

“Congratulations on becoming the most experienced player in Super Rugby history,” said SANZAR Chief Executive, Greg Peters.

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