Blues look to nail home advantage

The Blues are looking to the comforts of home to provide a forgettable Super Rugby campaign some late respectability.

Their bottom-of-the-table clash with the Western Force on Saturday will be at Eden Park, where they will spend most of the remainder of the season.

Skipper Jerome Kaino, who has been a stand-out in a struggling side, hopes they can take advantage.

“We’ve got six more games, five of them at home,” the No.8 said.

“It’s a good stretch of games here and hopefully we get some results.”

The Cricket World Cup in February and March meant the Blues have appeared only once at Eden Park in 2015, and it produced their sole win, a 16-14 upset over Australian conference leader the Brumbies.

They go into the latest round with the same 1-9 record as the Force, but having one more bonus point nudges them above the West Australians, who have their own motivation of avoiding a franchise-record 10th successive defeat.

Kaino said the Blues’ 29-15 loss to the Crusaders last Saturday, which he sat out as part of the All Blacks’ rest program, was “the same old story” of playing well in patches rather than the full 80 minutes.

One bright spot has been the form of 19-year-old rookie Akira Ioane, who has held off All Black Steven Luatua for the No.6 jersey.

“I thought he played really well at the weekend,” Kaino said.

“I know he’s got a bright future. It’s just a matter of us nurturing the new talent that’s coming through.”

The Blues’ woes have increased speculation over the future of coach John Kirwan, who is off contract at the end of the season after three years at the helm.

The New Zealand Herald reported on Friday that Kirwan told the Blues’ board this week he wanted to remain coach next season, with Tabai Matson, now part of the Crusaders’ coaching staff, as his assistant.

Under Kirwan’s proposal, Matson would take over the top job in 2017, when Kirwan would move into a high-performance role.

Blues chief executive Michael Redman said no decision had been made about next year’s coach.

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