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Blues, Luatua aim high

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Sportal.co.nz     18 Jan 2013     Getty Images

With an illustrious coaching panel and a new generation of future superstars, the Auckland-born 21-year-old believes they can have a 'real crack' at an Investec Super Rugby title but was realistic about where they currently stand as a group.

"Honestly, we see ourselves as building but building to the top," Luatua told Sportal.

"We're a young pack, a young team but we're going to keep building throughout this year."

Touted as a future holder of the All Blacks No 6 jersey Luatua certainly has the desire to take his game to the top level but said there is still much to learn in just his second Super Rugby season.

"I've just got to get the Blues No 6 job first so I'm not thinking ahead of that. The All Blacks jersey is definitely one of the aspirations but I'd like to establish myself here first," said Luatua.

Coach Sir John Kirwan was also prepared to vouch for the former New Zealand Under-20 representative and said another season at Eden Park will help him evolve into the complete package.

"He's got a lot of expectation on him but we want to take that off him a bit. He's got to be himself and just play. He is Steven Luatua and no-one else," Kirwan said.

"He's a great ball carrier but I think for him [the area of improvement] will be being effective when he has to do some of the harder work - so the cleanouts and that sort of stuff."

Luatua knows exactly what is expected of him after spending time under his predecessor, and All Blacks hard man, Jerome Kaino last year.

"Guys like Jerome Kaino and Brad Thorne have that physicality and if I can emulate that then I'll play as half as good as they do," added Luatua.

"If I can add that to my game then I will be in good stead."

The Blues are tracking towards the tactical end of a gruelling off-season schedule and have two weeks to prepare for their first pre-season hit-out against the 2011 champion Reds in Brisbane.

That match will be followed by an encounter with the Waratahs in Whangarei followed by an appointment with the Highlanders in Queenstown.