Blues yet to hit Super Rugby straps: Afoa - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Blues yet to hit Super Rugby straps: Afoa

Robert Lowe 20/06/2011 05:39:09 PM Comments (0)

Prop John Afoa believes the Blues have plenty of improvement in them as they approach the Super Rugby playoffs.

The Blues host the NSW Waratahs on Friday night, with the winners booking a semi-final clash away to the Queensland Reds the following weekend.

The Auckland-based franchise go in against the Waratahs on the back of some mixed results, their last-up win over the Highlanders breaking a four-match losing streak.

And Afoa believed the Blues were yet to produce an 80-minute effort.

"We haven't hit our straps for a whole game," he said.

"We've been patchy the last four weeks. Even at the weekend, it wasn't our best performance, but I thought we controlled the ball really well.

"Now, we've got this one-off game against the 'Tahs and we're really looking forward to it."

Afoa, 27, is set to play his 100th match for the Blues, joining skipper Keven Mealamu and injured fellow prop Tony Woodcock as franchise centurions.

The 30-Test All Black, off to Ulster at the end of the year, admitted that the milestone had been on his mind at the start of the season, when he was on 83 appearances.

"I did my maths and, if I played every game and we made the playoffs, I would be able to play 100," he said.

"Joining the club with Woody and Kevvie is going to be awesome."

Coach Pat Lam described Afoa as someone who helped to set the standards off the field.

He also rated Afoa's overall performance in the 33-16 win over the Highlanders at a wet Eden Park last Friday night as "massive".

"He had 68 minutes and he topped the tackle count with 20," Lam said.

"His scrummaging, all his basic stuff, was good. He's immense in this team - we're certainly going to miss him, so it would be good to send him off well."

Lam was encouraged by another statistic against the Highlanders and which suggested the Blues were back on the upward curve heading into the business end of the competition.

"We only missedone tackle - 99.2 per cent tackle quality," he said.

"If you get in the 90s, it's quite a good thing, but I've never heard of that before."

Meanwhile, Lam said flanker Daniel Braid was back in the selection frame after being out for most of the season with neck and hamstring problems.

Braid came through 40 minutes of Auckland club rugby at the weekend, but faces a difficult task in taking the No.7 jersey off younger brother Luke.

"It's going to be pretty tough for him," Lam said, "because his brother has been playing outstandingly well."

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