Big screen helps Blues pick up errors fast

DUNCAN JOHNSTONE
Last updated 05:00 06/02/2013

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Bigger is better for the Blues when it comes to technology to help Sir John Kirwan's new-look squad prepare for the rigours of Super Rugby.

The Blues have installed a large digital screen on the sidelines of their training base in Auckland, giving Kirwan the ability to provide instant replays during training drills from a camera focused on specific drills.

Playbacks are nothing new but, rather than having burly forwards huddled around a small laptop screen to check their methods and errors, the 6m x 3.5m screen makes things bigger, clearer and more accessible.

"It's a big phone, a big iPad, really," said Kirwan of renting the screen that is usually used at music and sporting events.

"It's about leading in those types of things and it's been a massive help for the guys.

"We run through our stuff and then check it on the screen. It's just a quicker learning tool. They look up, get the corrections and then go straight back out and do it."

The Blues are in the buildup to their second warmup match after a satisfactory 41-35 loss to a Wallabies-stacked Reds side in Queensland last weekend.

The Waratahs are next up and Kirwan is set to drip-feed some of his big names into action in Whangarei on Saturday afternoon.

Skipper Ali Williams will play. Fellow All Black Charlie Faumuina will get to see some action though halfback Piri Weepu will wait for the final trial against the Highlanders next week.

Rene Ranger will play against the Waratahs after sitting out the Reds game. With Jackson Willison nursing a sore thigh, Ranger's return is timely and, being a Northland star, he will be an obvious attraction for the locals.

Kirwan was happy with the effort of his raw side last week and wants even more this week.

"It was a really good way to start. There were lots of positives and lots of things to work on - probably more things to work on than positives.

"But we expressed ourselves and we started implementing what we want to. This [Waratahs] game is still all about us ... making sure that we get out and play our game. Everyone has to have clarity about what we are trying to do.

"I want lots of pressure on for positions. Our goal is to be facing the Hurricanes in our first match and having hard selection choices."

Kirwan senses some early dividends from his decision to go with so many untried players at this level as he rebuilds the Blues.

"They were great against the Reds, they were really, really good.

"The nice thing was we started well, then we got put under the pump. The young guys really stood up in the second half and that was good. They weren't overawed, they expressed themselves.

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"While our processes weren't good at times, our individual ability was - they stood up and had a go."

- The Dominion Post

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