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Braid confident Blues can succeed in South Africa

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Sportal.co.nz     04 Mar 2014     Getty Images

Captain Luke Braid said the Blues played things wrong tactically last year, mainly through kicking the ball out too often so a different approach could be expected this year.

However, the side will be hoping things improve with the weather before their game.

By Tuesday they hadn't seen the sun as unseasonal rain had been around since they arrived in Pretoria and what made matters worse was that many in the side didn't arrive prepared for wet weather training.

Braid said the early emphasis on the trip was getting the several younger members of the side who hadn't travelled to South Africa before familiar with what was expected of them both on and off the field.

"I love to come over here. It is good to experience the South African rugby culture. It's also good for the team to have a tour early in the competition. We came over later in the competition last year and it wasn't quite the same. I prefer earlier season tours," Braid said.

Acclimatising was important also at altitude where both of the Blues games will be played on this trip and it was about doing enough to get things right with the body before the game.

One advantage about the poor weather was that it was not as hot as might normally be the case at this time of year.

The Bulls, coming off their first win of the season, would be a tough opponent and would have a good lineout, a great maul and backs capable of lighting things up when they run the ball.

For the newer players in the Blues side it would be a case of realising they would be up against big men who would be throwing themselves at the New Zealanders and players needed to be in the right mindset for that sort of battle, he said.

"But I'm confident we can beat them," he said.

Beating the Crusaders just before hopping on the plane to South Africa had been a 'massive' lift for the side, he said.

Having lost all their warm-up games, and the first competition game against the Highlanders had meant the pressure was on to perform against the Crusaders.

"Now we've got that win behind us we can start to build back up and set about what we are trying to do.

"We got a lot right against the Crusaders and it is amazing what a win can do for your body, there's not so many niggles. The boys were pretty bouncy on Saturday after the win," he said.

At the same time, Braid acknowledged, there was still plenty more to be done in growth and development of the side and its culture and the trip was a good chance to bed a lot of that in away from the distractions in Auckland.

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