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Blues wary of patched-up Waratahs

22/06/2011 09:44:01 AM Comments (0)

The Blues are wary of the NSW Waratahs and their expanding injury list going into Friday night's Super Rugby qualifying final in Auckland.

While both sides have frontline players unavailable, the Waratahs' casualty tally is significantly longer, the latest addition being halfback Luke Burgess who suffered a broken hand in training on Tuesday.

With hooker Tatafu Polota-Nau, five-eighth Daniel Halangahu and prop Al Baxter all ruled out since last weekend there are now 12 regular squad members who won't be playing at Eden Park.

But Blues coach Pat Lam was cautious on Wednesday about what that would mean for his side.

"We've just talked about it as a team," said Lam.

"If any of our wider training group boys got a chance, what would they feel like? They would be buzzing.

"It makes them more dangerous when a guys gets an opportunity out there to play."

Lam also said Wallaby star Kurtley Beale would be a threat whether he operated at fullback as usual or as five-eighth replacement for Halangahu and revealed even his family were Beale fans.

"He (Beale) has X factor, he's a quality player, my kids like him," said Lam.

"They were pretty annoyed we were playing the Waratahs because they like Kurtley Beale.

"Ten or 15, he's going to be a threat. He will run the game for them. He's a dangerous player we need to try to shut down."

However, rather than concentrating on individuals, Lam said analysis at Super Rugby level was about team structures.

The Blues' own focus was "really about us firing shots and really giving it a good crack".

Lam has made one change to his starting team, with regular halfback Alby Mathewson returning to the No.9 jersey.

Mathewson began the Blues' win over the Highlanders last Friday night on the bench after having received a head knock in the previous round.

There is also one change on the bench, with former All Blacks and Queensland Reds flanker Daniel Braid coming back into the squad after an extended spell on the sidelines with neck and hamstring injuries.

Braid - whose younger brother, Luke, has retained the No 7 jersey - came through 40 minutes of Auckland club rugby last weekend.

As to whether sudden-death rugby called for a more conservative approach, Lam said it was about his players doing the basics well.

That was one of the lessons from their run of four losses late in the regular season after they had been sitting at the top of the table.

"It's more about doing what we have to do to win the game," he said.

"You don't have bonus points or anything. It's just get our job done."

Blues: Jared Payne, Joe Rokocoko, Benson Stanley, Luke McAlister, Lachie Munro, Stephen Brett, Alby Mathewson, Peter Saili, Luke Braid, Jerome Kaino, Ali Williams, Anthony Boric, John Afoa, Keven Mealamu (capt), Charlie Faumuina. Res: Tom McCartney, Tevita Mailau, Chris Lowrey, Daniel Braidt, Chris Smylie, Winston Stanley, Sherwin Stowers.

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