Kirwan calls on ABs greats to help at Blues

DUNCAN JOHNSTONE
Last updated 12:30 19/02/2013
John Kirwan
JOHN SELKIRK/Fairfax NZ
SIR JOHN KIRWAN: "It's about creating an environment that I think is really important - the success of the past."

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All Blacks greats Buck Shelford, Michael Jones and Joe Stanley have been helping boost the Blues in the buildup to their first Super Rugby game of the season on Saturday.

Blues coach Sir John Kirwan has been quick to call in favours from some of his contemporaries from within the Blues franchise.

And they haven't hesitated to help out with the list also including fellow All Blacks Craig Innes and Eric Rush along with Blues stalwart Justin Collins, the Northland flanker who was desperately unlucky not to get a chance at the highest level.

Kirwan wanted their philosophies and winning attitude to rub off on his new-look squad and believes that has been happening.

"There's this really fantastic Maori saying that I actually live by on the last couple of jobs that said 'if you want to have faith and hope in the future, you must first stand on the shoulders of the past'," Kirwan said.

"So I did that with this team and looked at what made us successful from a game point of view."

His assembled list of local greats had a common theme of success with Northland, Auckland and North Harbour teams, as well as some being in champion Blues teams and the bulk knowing the All Blacks ethos.

"I asked them come in and help us ... just be around and talk to them about how important it is for the region. Just to be here, basically.

"Michael (Jones) is with us today and it's an opportunity for our young guys, just to sit next to someone who has played loose forward, Luke (Braid) can sit there at lunch and chew the fat with Michael.

"It's about creating an environment that I think is really important - the success of the past."

Kirwan and his Blues face a tough introduction. They are away to the Hurricanes on Saturday night and then host the Crusaders at Eden Park the following Friday.

"We're as ready as we can be. I don't think we're ready yet but we will be by the time we get on the plane to Wellington [on Friday]," Kirwan said.

"It's important that we keep our feet on the ground and stay in process."

He was happy to talk up the Hurricanes believing all the pressure lay in their camp.

"They have been talking about winning the competition and I think they should be. They have an exciting squad. Mark (Hammett) has been working hard for a couple of years.

"The Hurricanes are real contenders. We are the underdogs going into this game and we should be. They have been building for a couple of years. We just need to go down there and have a go. There's no pressure on us, it's all on them."

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Kirwan is content with his squad's progress over the summer but now it was about translating that into performance.

"We've had a preseason where we wanted to make sure that everyone understood their roles and responsibilities; we've done that. So now it's really about making sure we take that forward and keep getting better.

- Fairfax Media

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