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Thursday, January 05, 2006


Super 14: Highlander a little lost in sudden transition
By Hayden Meikle

It's A long time since Andrew Blowers felt like the new kid at school.

But yesterday, as he glanced round at the fresh-faced youngsters wearing the same colours as him, the former All Black loose forward had the distinct feeling he stuck out like a sore toe.

Blowers, 30, made an unexpected appearance at the first day of training for the Highlanders.

He was not expected back from Japan until the end of the month but flew in early when his Toyota club were dumped out of the playoffs.

"Unfortunately we got knocked out but it's lovely to be down here with the boys and have my first run as a Highlander," Blowers said.

"I missed out on the three weeks they had before Christmas and I would have loved to have been there.

"But I'm just grateful to have these five weeks rather than come in mid-February. The bright side of losing in Japan is that I'm here with the boys now."

With captain Anton Oliver not due to return from his All Black hiatus for two weeks, Blowers and fellow Auckland draft player Nick White are the senior statesmen in the squad.

There isn't much Blowers hasn't done in rugby. His resume includes 18 games (11 tests) with the All Blacks, 45 games for the Blues, 44 games for Auckland and four seasons in Britain.

Yet he arrives in Dunedin knowing barely any of his teammates and with some onlookers doubtless wondering how he will re-adapt to the pace of Southern Hemisphere rugby.

"Yeah, I feel like the new kid on the block, meeting the boys and training in a new place. I feel like it's my first time back in the Super 12 or Super 14.

"I'm here to learn, really, and to get to know the guys and the coaches, and just knuckle down and work hard and train hard.

"There are some nerves there because I just feel so new. I hardly know these guys, apart from seeing them on TV."

Blowers has been joined by wife Gina and children Samuel and Stella, and the family are looking for a house to rent during the season.

He admitted he had expected to still be in Japan at this time and had not prepared for the possibility of the powerful Toyota team stumbling at such an early stage of the playoffs.

"It was a bit of a shock. In past years we've beaten the teams we lost against.

"I hadn't even thought about packing my bags. We lost, and then we literally got things finalised straight away to get home."

When Blowers last played in New Zealand, the Super 12 (now 14) started at the end of February. Now pre-season games begin this month, and the competition on February 10.

Hopefully, by then, Blowers will feel right at home as a Highlander.

Howdy Rugga World

Just to let you know the comments on the site are back and we should start full coverage from the 14th of Jan.

I trust you all had a good festive season and hope 2006 will be a huge success for you all

CHeers Ig
Hallo Ig

I trust the festive season was a nice one for you. I saw commenting back on, when you gonna join a brannasnacht?
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