Wynne Gray is a Herald columnist

Rugby: Braid in doubt after training injury

Coach emphasises sensible tactics and consistency as Blues prepare for return clash with Highlanders.

Too often the Blues were undisciplined with their game plan. Photo / Getty Images
Too often the Blues were undisciplined with their game plan. Photo / Getty Images

Workaholic flanker Luke Braid has several dates with the Blues medicos before he can confirm his place for the decisive return Super 15 clash with the Highlanders.

Braid injured his groin when he was pinned in a tackle yesterday as the Blues trained in slushy conditions and frequent showers.

"I hope some rest and a bit of physio will have it sorted," he said.

Braid has been one of the Blues' most consistent this year in a strong loose forward combination with Peter Saili and All Black training group pick Steven Luatua.

Luatua will return from the latest camp in Mt Maunganui for the match with Charles Piutau, Frank Halai, Rene Ranger, Francis Saili, Piri Weepu and Keven Mealamu.

All except Mealamu will start for the Blues while the hooker will be asked to come from the bench as his test squad buddy Andrew Hore was last week for the Highlanders.

The Blues decided the best strategy was for James Parsons to work through all the training scrum and lineout sessions this week with the pack that will start on Saturday in Dunedin.

They are also waiting for a decision from five-eighths Chris Noakes who has been away from training because of family health issues. Baden Kerr has been running in his place.

Coach John Kirwan's message has been about playing sensible rugby and strangling other sides.

Too often the Blues were undisciplined with their game plan and while they might not like playing percentage rugby, that was necessary if they wanted to develop.

There were many big moments in a season and for a franchise to do well they need to get some consistency.

"We have to implement that by having strong leadership about what we are doing," Kirwan said.

"We have been having trouble with our discipline in trying to execute our game plans. Sometimes, like the game against the Brumbies, we couldn't play a boring game and that's what we need to learn."

Conditions in Dunedin will be dry inside the covered stadium and should suit the Blues.

They will be very wary of the Highlanders despite their record of winning just one game this season.

Six of their squad were at the latest All Black camp at Mt Maunganui while Brad Thorn has been one of the Highlanders' most consistent this year and Tamati Ellison has looked sharp in his return from injury.

- NZ Herald

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