The Auckland Blues team might be arriving late tomorrow for Friday’s Super Rugby clash but their presence is already felt on the streets of Apia thanks to one of the more popular figures in the team.
All Black and Blues captain, Jerome Kaino, is already in the country and yesterday, he and teammate Pauliasi Manu, were on duty to talk up the historical fixtures.
Their programme included a visit to Eveni Pacific, which is outfitting them with elei shirts and more. The players were joined by reigning Miss Samoa Priscilla Olano.
Although Kaino will sit out the match with an injury, he is confident they have what it takes to overcome the Queensland Reds. His confidence is helped by the fact the Blues is widely supported in Samoa.
“Of course we’ll win we have all the supporters,” he said.
“Everyone is going to be wearing blue at the stadium, whether it’s a Manu Samoa jersey or Blue’s jersey it’s still blue and blue is dear to us and everyone will be supporting us.”
General Manager of the Blues High Performance Unit, Tony Hanks, said their preparations have been good.
“The last months has been challenging because we’ve travelled a lot but it’s a really exciting week for us and we are doing a lot of things for the first time,” he said.
“We are coming off a good game that we were disappointed to get a draw with the Chiefs but the team has been building."
“We get to play the first ever Super Rugby game in Samoa and we also get to be the first New Zealand team to play the Lions so it’s a fantastic week for us."
“The rest of the team are jealous that we are here already but they are looking forward to come and play here."
“A lot of the guys they will get to play in front of their families and a lot of them when we asked them why they are playing they said they are playing for their families.”
Asked if the team will visit Savai’i since there are a lot of supporters in Savai’i too, Kaino was keen.
“I’d love to visit as we’ve got couple of days here and so hopefully will be able to find an afternoon free where we can pop over,” he said.
“But as for the team, they arrive Thursday and the game will be on Friday and leave on Saturday so it might be a bit tight."
“But I’ve spoken to these guys about how nice Savai’i is and how beautiful the beaches are and so if they ever get a chance, it’s a must to go over and see.”
Part of Kaino, Manu and Hanks’ programme yesterday included clinics. One was at the S.R.U. High Performance Unit.
“We will be doing some activities that we’ve been doing at home."
“We will be showing them what young men do when they make the Blues."
“What the likes of Reiko Ioane and them have done in the last couple of years so we will be doing the same things with the kids here in the next couple of days.”