Blues target third big Super Rugby scalp

A notable hat-trick beckons for Super Rugby strugglers the Blues when they face the high-flying Hurricanes in Auckland.

Coach John Kirwan’s men have just three wins from their 13 matches, but two were over the Brumbies and the Bulls.

Victory over the Hurricanes at Eden Park on Saturday night would give them the treble over the sides leading the three conferences.

To achieve that, Kirwan says the Blues will have to shackle the Hurricanes’ counter-attacking ability.

“It’s really important we don’t give them an inch,” Kirwan said.

“They can attack from all over the place so we need to make sure we shut them down.”

With the Blues battling a lengthy injury list, hooker James Parsons will become their third skipper this season.

There are three changes to the starting 15, all in the pack.

Props Ofa Tu’ungafasi and Sam Prattley come in for Charlie Faumuina, who is on an All Blacks rest, and the injured Tony Woodcock.

New Zealand Under-20 representative Blake Gibson is promoted to the No.7 jersey in a reshuffled loose trio.

In their last meeting in Palmerston North in March, the Blues ran the Hurricanes close before the home side sealed a 30-23 win with a late Julian Savea try.

Meanwhile, Kirwan said he “wouldn’t be human” if he wasn’t affected by the ongoing saga over who will coach the Blues next season.

Kirwan is coming off contract, but wants to stay on.

He said he always knew the job would be challenging but at no time had he thought of giving up.

Blues chief executive Michael Redman said the board was continuing to work towards a consensus on the coaching staff for 2016.

He said board members would ideally like to stick to their original timetable of making a decision at the end of May, “but I expect it will push out now”.

“If the board chooses a contestable process, there’s eight to 10 weeks to be able to complete that.”

As for the reported deep division within the board over whether Kirwan should be retained, Redman said everyone had the Blues’ best interests at heart.

“It’s important to get it right and it’s not surprising there are strong views and passionate views around the table,” he said.

“But everyone has the right outcome in mind and that is how we reverse the fortunes and put the best group together for next year.”

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