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Blues set for season opener

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Saturday, February 23, 2013

AUCKLAND - Coach Sir John Kirwan wants his green-looking Blues to forget about the result and express themselves when they open their Super Rugby campaign against the Hurricanes today.

Kirwan says he has already given the message to the players.

"It's just to express ourselves, just get out there and do what we've been practising," he said.

"Stay in the process. Don't worry about the result."

A newcomer himself to role of Super Rugby coach, Kirwan's 22-strong squad to face the Hurricanes in Wellington is flush with youth.

The experience resides primarily with the trio of lock and new skipper Ali Williams, halfback Piri Weepu and centre Rene Ranger.

Williams and Weepu, with 77 and 69 All Black Tests respectively, dwarf their teammates for big-game nous.

Weepu will also be playing his 100th Super Rugby match, ironically against the franchise he spent most of his career with, while Ranger will be clocking up 50 appearances.

Of the rest of the match-day squad, three players are new to this level of competition, including starting winger Frank Halai, while eight have had a season or less under their belts.

Kirwan is quick to claim underdog status against the Hurricanes, who have undergone their own transition under coach Mark Hammett.

"The Hurricanes have had their two seasons of rebuilding and everyone's excited and they're talking about being title contenders," he said.

"They're a good football side and we're just going to go down there and have a crack."





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