McKenzie’s Enoyable Time At Chiefs Makes Decision To Stay Easier

It has been an eventful week for Damian McKenzie, but his decision to stay with the Chiefs is likely due to his comfort in the team environment.

In the eyes of some people, Damian McKenzie made a bad decision when he chose not to take up the offer made to him by the Blues.

But for the 21-year old, the decision to stay with the Chiefs could be because the “here and now” is not all there is to consider.

McKenzie is very small in size, and this is going to be commented on time and time again throughout his career. It is something that has never bothered Mckenzie himself, but with that says, the 21-year old knows it could  be a disadvantage in many matches, and there was no denying that in the weekends 26-13 loss to the Highlanders.

McKenzie had much ball in hand but struggled to do anything of note against the Highlanders, but he showed just as much bravery as ever.

But, the stats back it up, McKenzie has not slotted any points for the Chiefs since the clash against the Hurricanes two weeks ago. Continue reading McKenzie’s Enoyable Time At Chiefs Makes Decision To Stay Easier

Pakuranga Rugby Club to host The Blues

The Blues will play a pre season match against the Melbourne Rebels at the Pakuranga Rugby Club.

With free admission, Pakuranga Rugby Club manager Stephen Hackett says the matchup will be exciting for both the club and Auckland’s Eastern community.

Hackett also said that the club has taken significant strides on and off the field in the hopes of hosting the Blues for a match one day, and the reward has paid off, especially for locals who have gotten behind rugby in recent years.

Taking place on Thursday February 4th, the match will be the first of three pre season hit outs for the Blues.

 

EXCLUSIVE: Bryn Gatland heading to Blues development

Bryn Gatland is set to head up the Waikato Expressway and ply his trade at a developmental level for the Blues.

The Real Michael Pulman has learnt that Gatland will be a part of the Blues development side during the 2016 Super Rugby season, returning to the city of sails where he previously played for a Blues Schools side back in 2013.

Gatland has spent the last couple of years in the Waikato and was a big stand out for Old Boys in this years Hamilton club season.

Gatland debuted for the Mooloos at ITM Cup level in 2015 but says the move to Auckland is best for his career going forward.

The 20-year old is the son of kiwi-born Welsh international coach Warren Gatland.

Gareth Anscombe selected for Welsh clash against Australia

Former Chiefs and Blues back Gareth Anscombe will start for the Welsh in their crunch clash against Australia this weekend.

Credit: Other Sports News

Anscombe was initially ruled out of the Welsh squad for the RWC due to a slight ankle injury. Due to the number of casualties Warren Gatland’s side has suffered throughout the tournament, Anscombe reappeared in training camps last week and has now been named in the run on side, slotting into fullback.

Anscombe played for both the Blues and Chiefs in Super Rugby prior to leaving New Zealand at the end of last season to focus on representing Wales at the World Cup.

Remarkably, Anscombe now gets his time to shine.

The winner of the match will proceed to the quarter finals as the top seed from Pool A.

Blues lose again in tight Chiefs encounter

The Blues have lost again as the Chiefs remain in good position on the Super Rugby ladder after winning 23-16 in front of over 14,000 on Easter Saturday at Waikato Stadium.

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The Blues played positive running rugby early on, but were let off the hook twice in the first ten minutes when Aaron Cruden missed two consecutive penalty shots on goal.

Cruden looked to have injured his left shoulder in a tackle but played on.

Playing most of the game in Blues territory, the Chiefs took the lead in the 18th minute when Cruden slotted the ball through the sticks from out in front.

A brilliant break downfield by Tom Marshall put the Chiefs in space with no Blues defenders back.

Augustine Pulu nearly score the Chiefs first try, but Charles Piutau knocked the ball out of Pulu’s grasp in the goal line.

Damian McKenize clutched at his left leg and was limping badly back at fullback but tried to battle on.

McKenzie appeared to be running a little more freely as time ticked away.

The Chiefs surged downfield again, and James Lowe went in for another try on the season and the Chiefs had a ten-point lead following Cruden’s conversion.

Daniel Bowden put the Blues on the scoreboard when the Chiefs gave away a penalty.

The Chiefs led 10-3 at halftime.

The Blues started the second half by taking the ball to the line hard and with some hot footwork broke downfield and were knocking on the door of the try line but lost the ball.

After McKenzie dropped the ball trying to clear, the Blues had an attacking scrum.

Jerome Kaino broke off the back of the scrum and charged over the line with defenders holding onto him to score a try. With Bowden’s conversion, the Blues were all square 10-10.

The Blues kept surging and were awarded with a penalty.

Dan Bowden made no mistake, putting the Blues into the lead for the first time in the match 13-10.

The Chiefs quickly tied things up again when Cruden kicked a penalty from out in front.

As the Blues continued to mount attack after attack in the Chiefs half, a turnover led to Michael Leitch breaking downfield and he looked like he had the pace to go all the way before the Blues defenders scrambled back.

It took a few phases, and more than a few occasions where the Chiefs had numbers to burn out wide, but the try was scored by Tom Marshall to put the Chiefs back into the lead.

Aaron Cruden increased the lead to ten points when he kicked a long penalty go with time ticking down.

With little over a minute to go, Ihaia West scored three consolation points but the Chiefs held on to the lead as the buzzer sounded to secure a 23-16 win in Hamilton.

Hansen cannot be swayed by morals and anger on Piutau selection

Charles Piutau leaving New Zealand shores for a lucrative $1million contract with Ulster has, as expected, divided the opinion of many this week.

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The NZ Herald has reported that Piutau had already signed a new two-year contract with the NZRU.

But Piutau had asked his management team to hold off sending it back due to another lucrative contract being offered by Irish club Ulster.

By changing his mind and going off shore, Piutau has ended all chances of playing test rugby for the All Blacks post Rugby World Cup.

Has Piutau, an almost certain regular All Black selection in the future, made the right decision by signing with Ulster?

The man has to do what is best for him, but not only that his rugby playing and financial future.

Money should never be the biggest factor in turning away from the All Black jersey, but it is a factor nonetheless.

If Piutau suffers a career-ending injury one year into his tenure with Ulster, he will at least have the finances behind him to secure his family’s future.

This must be taken into account, not only by the media in their pending criticism of Piutau, but also the All Black selectors on the question of if they now decide to take Piutau to the RWC or not.

Steve Hansen has always said he will select the best side regardless of any other factors, be they financial or otherwise, so let’s hope he sticks with that vision and doesn’t cave to moral pressure and not select Charles Piutau in the June internationals.

Blues appalling form suggests it’s time for Kirwan

John Kirwan says he believes in himself as coach of the Blues despite the dismal start to the season and calls for the former All Black to be sacked from his role.

Blues Media and Training Session, 27 February 2013

The Blues have made a poor start to the Super Rugby season without doubt.

Four straight losses to start the season will be unacceptable to any loyal rugby followers in Auckland.

John Kirwan has been under the media microscope all week.

Reports surfaced that Kirwan could soon be out the door, and Blues Rugby strongly denied this last Friday.

Following the loss to the Lions, Kirwan was defiant in the post-match press conference.

“I’m going to be here for a long time. I’m the right man for the job and I believe in what I am doing”, Kirwan said.

But for as defiant and self-believing as Kirwan is, the fact is that the Blues have made the worst possible start to the season, a theme that appears to be continuing from previous years but gets worse each time.

Kirwan has a worse record coaching the Blues than Pat Lamb.

The Blues will play the Hurricanes this Friday.

Rene Ranger to play for North Harbour prior to Blues return

Rene Ranger will return to New Zealand and play ITM Cup rugby prior to his second coming in Super Rugby next year.

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Ranger was given an early release from his contract with French club Montpellier after spending two years in the French Top 14.

The 65-Blues capped attacking back cited the move back to New Zealand for family reasons.

“Family comes first and that is the big motivator to return. I want to help my Mum more”, Ranger said.

Ranger will make his return to New Zealand Rugby in this years ITM Cup with North Harbour, a major signing for the province.

Ranger says he is excited to join the team he describes as a young team trying to build.

Ranger’s return to Super Rugby will be a major bolster to the Blues next season.

The Blues have gone winless from their opening three rounds of Super Rugby, including two loses over in South Africa against the Stormers and Cheetahs.

Chiefs beat Blues in tight affair

The Chiefs have opened their Super Rugby season with a win against the Blues in a close match at QBE Stadium in North Harbour.

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The Chiefs played a far better running and attack game than the Blues from the beginning.

Quick passing on the blindside saw the ball sent out to winger James Lowe who tippy toe’d his way down the sideline and backed himself to make the corner, holding the ball and sprinting in for the Chiefs first try.

A brilliant catch by the returning Sonny Bill Williams off a high ball set Bryce Heem up for a runaway try as the Chiefs dotted down for their second and suddenly had a big lead early.

Damian McKenzie had a near perfect first half , landing 4 of his 5 kicks on goal including a shot from near the halfway line out wide.

McKenzie showed the foot skills and speed which got him noticed last year during the U-20 Rugby World Cup, breaking the line on one occasion and nearly slipping through again moments later.

A minor scuffle between McKenzie and Blues midfielder Hamish Northcote handed the Blues a penalty, and Ihaia West was successful as the Blues took full opportunity of the limited chances for points in the first half.

The Chiefs led the Blues 20 – 9 at halftime.

The second half got off to a shaky start for the Chiefs when captain Matt Symons was sin binned for not rolling away, though under controversial circumstances as replays clearly showed due time wasn’t allowed at the breakdown.

The Blues refused to lay down, Ihaia West continuing his perfect night with the boot as he slotted a further 9 points to bring his side back into the game late.

West scored all 18 points for the Blues but it was the two tries to the Chiefs which proved the difference, the full time score 23-18 at QBE Stadium.

Blues moving to new HQ facility

The Blues will move to a new purpose built training and administrating headquarters later this year.

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Based at Alexandra Park in Auckland, the new Blues headquarters feature a “world class” high performance facility with gyms, offices, and a training field which Blues Rugby say will be a vital cog towards sustainable success in Super Rugby.

Construction at Alexandra Park will begin in March.

The Blues face a battle early in the Super Rugby season as their usual home ground Eden Park is under a CWC blackout, meaning the club has to play their home games elsewhere.

QBE Stadium in Albany will host their opening fixture against the Chiefs on Valentines Day.

The Blues have committed to a 15-year lease with the Auckland Trotting Club to base the new headquarters at the venue.