Rugby | Blues wary of Crusaders backlash

Auckland – Blues captain Jerome Kaino has warned his side
that the Crusaders will come back firing after their loss to the Chiefs in the
opening round.

The Auckland-based franchise face the seven-time champions
on Friday, and Kaino has urged his troops to prepare for the clash, knowing
that Christchurch side will be looking for a comeback after they went down 27-21
at home.

“They’ll be grumpy, that’s for sure,” Kaino told the website.

“We saw against the Chiefs how good their forward pack
are, especially their scrum and their line-out.

“And their intensity will only ramp up after a loss.

“They’ll be well structured and well drilled but their
intensity and physicality will ramp up a little bit just because they’ll be a
bit grumpy.

“It will be a great test and we need to be mentally
prepared for that.

“We haven’t won down there in a while and we’ll have to
be composed and be prepared for what’s coming.”

Kaino, who missed the Blues’ season opener against the
Highlanders, was impressed by his side’s 33-31 winning performance over the
defending champions, and particularly lauded their defence and perseverance
shown by the squad.

“It was tense at times but just the way the boys
adapted our game-plan to how they defended impressed me,” he said.

“Also how we hung in there. They put a lot of heat on
us early but the boys had the resolve to fight back and adapt how we played.

“In the past I don’t think we would have seen a Blues
team adapt like that and come back stronger, so that was pleasing.”

The All Blacks loose forward said that one thing head coach
Tana Umaga brought to the squad was a realisation that Saturday’s result was
just one result alone, and that they still need to improve areas of concern.

“There are a lot of guys here who have been around for
a while and understand the competition,” he added.

“We know it’s a grind, and this is just one game. We’ve
seen the Blues come out firing first game and get good wins.

“We’ve been here before, and we haven’t backed it up
the next few games, we know what’s ahead.

“By no means was it a perfect performance. We know
that, we take a lot of confidence out of knowing we’re heading in the right
direction, but we know we still need to polish up a lot of areas or we’ll be
back where we were.”

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