Chamberlain up against familiar faces - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Chamberlain up against familiar faces

30/04/2009 11:10:00 AM Comments (0)

Flanker Tom Chamberlain won't be stepping into the total unknown when he makes his Super 14 debut for the injury-hit Blues in Wellington on Friday.

Chamberlain, 22, has been plucked from the franchise's wider training squad to face competition leaders the Hurricanes and the likes of All Black loose forwards Rodney So'oialo and Scott Waldrom.

While he knows it's a big step up from the club rugby he played last weekend, the calibre of individuals he will be marking at Westpac Stadium won't be a novelty.

"I've played both of them in the Air New Zealand Cup," he said.

"I know it will be tough. They're good players."

To get some idea of the intensity of Super 14 rugby, the quietly spoken Chamberlain would draw on his experiences as part of North Harbour's defence of the Ranfurly Shield in 2007.

There had been words of advice from the experienced pair of Justin Collins and Josh Blackie, who are among the Blues' loose forward casualties.

It had given him confidence that they backed his ability to do the job.

Having a coach in Pat Lam who was himself a former flanker had also been a help.

Still, Chamberlain, part of a makeshift loose trio with No.8 Jerome Kaino and part-time flanker Kurtis Haiu, is preparing for a stern challenge.

The Hurricanes are on a three-match winning streak and overwhelmed the Brumbies 56-7 in Wellington last Saturday.

"They'll be pretty difficult on their home ground and we'll just have to see what happens," he said.

"There'll be a few nerves here and there. I'll just try to stay relaxed. I think I play better like that."

The Blues are looking to rebound from a disappointing 31-24 defeat at home to the struggling Queensland Reds, a result that kept them in fifth spot, although just a point out of the top four.

Lam has made a raft of changes to his starting 15, a number of them injury-related.

He accepted that the Blues faced the prospect of probably having to win all three of their remaining matches to make the playoffs.

But that was the likely case for all of the top nine sides, who are covered by just seven points.

"It's a great competition the way it's ended up," he said.

"I think it's Test matches all around. It's backs to the wall, all the games. We're just one of many teams trying to get there."

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