Super Rugby
Kirwan calls for set-piece improvement
April 5, 2013
Blues head coach Sir John Kirwan (left) watches on, Highlanders v Blues, Super Rugby trial match, Queenstown Recreation Ground, New Zealand, February 15, 2013
Blues coach John Kirwan was proud of his players despite their errors © Getty Images
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Problems at line-outs and scrums that threatened to undo the Blues before they achieved a 29-18 win over the Highlanders at Eden Park on Friday night were not acceptable, according to coach John Kirwan.

According to Kirwan the side needs to be able to nail those facets of play at critical times.

"We just go back to the drawing board, understand the reasons why," he said. "It was a really important evening for us from a confidence point of view."

He was impressed with the courage the side showed in holding out the Highlanders, especially in the scrums they mounted on the Blues five-metre line.

"We needed to win and we did some great things, and we did some funny things. But in the environment we needed to win. We've come off three losses and we got the win and I'm really proud of the guys," he said.

The defence of the side, especially when wing George Moala was sin-binned for a high tackle on Buxton Popoali'i, and at the end of the game had been outstanding and rewarded the work the team had put in on improving their line speed during the week, Kirwan said.

The effort of Jackson Willison in midfield had bolstered the desire to have competition for places right throughout the team.

"We want everyone being put under pressure to perform week-in, week-out. Everyone [substitutes] injected into the game and created a selection nightmare for the coaches and that is what we want," he said.

Captain Ali Williams had no qualms with the extra care taken by the match officials in getting their rulings correct by use of the video technology, even if it did extend the game time.

It was a positive move and while there was waiting time involved, it also allowed players time to reflect.

"Sometimes as a captain you ask them to go back too much. There is too much riding on a game now to get decisions wrong and this just helps the refs," he said.

It was a challenge when less experienced members of the side were undertaking plays in critical parts of the game with a little too much risk, he said. The coach suggested it would be better if they walked them at times, rather than rushing at it.

"But that's what you're going to get. They want to play, they want to try things," he said.

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