13 Mar 2007

Blues coach says returning All Blacks will face high public expectations

10:27 am on 13 March 2007

The Blues and Chiefs will be giving some of their returning All Blacks a run this afternoon in Auckland in a match between teams from their respective wider training groups.

The Blues, who have a bye this weekend, will be starting Ali Williams and Joe Rokocoko but resting Tony Woodcock and Keven Mealamu as they're nursing minor injuries.

Coach David Nucifora says public expectations of the returning All Blacks are likely to be higher than they should be.

"Whether that's fair or not i'm not quite sure, any sportsperson, football in particular needs a bit of time to work their way back into match condition, and becoming football fit again people have to be realistic with that, so a couple of them will start getting some game time which will be a positive for them, but people need to understand that it's going to take a bit of time for them to find their footballing feet."

Meanwhile, Nucifora says Anthony Tuitavake's hamstring injury is coming along well and there's an outside chance he'll be fit for their next match at Eden Park in a week's time.

The midfielder has played centre and wing for the Blues this season but he limped off during the home win over the Reds.

His replacement on the left wing, North Harbour team mate Rudi Wulf, scored two tries and has looked right at home since.

Nucifora says that's made Tuitavake even keener to get back on the field.

When you see other people playing in your position playing well, it increases the healing rate, but he's really keen he's been working damn hard to get it right, he's an outside chance of being fit for the Waratahs, so again probably another week we'll have a clearer picture of where Ants is at.

The top of the table Blues have a bye this week.