Blues skipper hoping for big crowd turnout

By Cameron Leslie

Blues captainBlues captain Ali Williams has joined the Northland Rugby Union in challenging locals to get along to Toll Stadium today at 2.30pm to support the Blues as they take on the Waratahs in a pre-season match.

Williams asks that locals show up and get behind the Super 15 team, and don't forget to bring the Northland culture.

"Having a crowd really impacts on how you play," said Williams.

"It gives you the boost when you need it and also makes you sort of realise that what you're doing isn't so much for yourself, it's for other people, and the people treasure what you do.

"Mate, hopefully we get a good crowd. I'd suggest people get along and watch because the side is definitely different and you'll see that in how we play."

Williams says more than anything, passion and desire has returned to the Blues, something which can be seen on his team's faces.

"Hopefully, we can get some people along. We'd love to get up here and play a lot more but the reality is we travel a lot and coming up here makes it tricky," said Williams.

"I mean this is definitely part of our region and definitely part of what we stand for as a team. One of the things we've got is many cultures, one winning culture, and part of that culture is Whangarei and up north."

Williams noted Rene Ranger's, Northland's sole Blues representative, contribution to the team culture, saying he's a true-blue Northlander.

"Rene [Ranger] definitely brings a lot of [Northland culture], he's a big fan of this area and he expresses his thoughts and passion for it, which once again comes through with us when we play.

"I love coming up here, great fishing, just wish we could do a few more things up here, a few camps and things like that. But, the reality of professionalism is we don't have the time that we'd all love."

Earlier in the week, Northland Rugby Union CEO Jeremy Parkinson made a plea for Northlanders to get along to Toll Stadium and support Super 15 in this region. Parkinson said if locals didn't show their support there was a risk Northland would lose its regular pre-season match.

Supporters should be in for a good show as prized Waratahs recruit Israel Folau, former rugby league star and AFL flop, is likely to get some game time, after scoring two tries from fullback against the Rebels last week.

Tickets for the match can be purchased from the Northland Rugby Union's office on Okara Drive.

- Northern Advocate

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