Blues' Luatua wants Super Rugby payback
February 28, 2013
Steven Luatua is keen to make up for bad memories of the Blues' last outing against the Crusaders. © Getty Images
Blues loose forward Steven Luatua will have some personal motivation for a big Super Rugby performance against the Crusaders on Friday in Auckland.
A week after making his debut off the bench last May, Luatua was elevated to the Blues' starting 15 against the seven-time champions. It was a memorable night for him, but for the wrong reasons, as the Blues were walloped 59-12.
"That was a great way to get baptised in Super Rugby," he recalled with an ironic smile. "I'm looking to get one on them."
Used also at lock during his six appearances, Luatua's emergence as a bright prospect was one of the positive notes to come out of the Blues' dismal campaign last year. He continued his impressive form into the new season as the revamped Blues pulled off a 34-20 upset over the Hurricanes in Wellington last Saturday.
Coach Sir John Kirwan has rewarded the players by retaining the same starting line-up and bench to face the Crusaders at Eden Park. At 21, Luatua is representative of the youth in Kirwan's squad.
"I'm getting more experienced in the No.6 jersey," Luatua said. "But when I look around, I'm still the youngest in the pack, so I'm still learning and growing."
Luatua said Kirwan had laid down the law to the players to keep their feet on the ground after their success over the Hurricanes.
In any case, a scan of the starting pack the Crusaders are putting out for their opening match of the season made it easy not to get carried away. All but openside flanker Matt Todd have played for the All Blacks.
Luatua said one thing the Blues had worked on this week was improving their line speed, especially around the fringes.
"The Hurricanes got a lot of gains out wide because we weren't as aggressive on the inside," Luatua said. "That was definitely one of our work-ons this week."