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Blues to kick bad decisions

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Sportal.co.nz     26 Apr 2013     Getty Images

Bad decisions off the field could potentially cost the Auckland franchise on it, when they enter the smouldering cauldron that is Suncorp Stadium on Friday night.

Centre Francis Saili and wing George Moala have been scratched from the starting line-up, while the latter has been temporarily ejected from the camp.

Saili chose to jeopardise his own and the franchise's reputation when he got behind the wheel without a license; Moala is said to have been dishonest with Blues management and broke team protocol.

But that's where veteran halfback Piri Weepu wants the selfish behaviour to end.

Against the 2011 Super Rugby champions, who have not tasted defeat in their past five outings, the emphasis of a 'team effort' cannot be overstated.

"We've got to make the best decisions for the team - not for the individual," Weepu said.

"Everyone is going to, at some stage, be able to showcase their abilities out on the field.

"They've got to make the right decisions for the team - not for their own personal reasons."

That collective approach will be crucial to overcoming a side on the verge of becoming the first foreign outfit to complete a clean-sweep of all its New Zealand opponents.

Without a scheduled clash with the Crusaders, the Reds already have the scalps of the Hurricanes, Highlanders and Chiefs; only the Blues remain.

While the sublime combination of first-five Quade Cooper and halfback Will Genia is the most alarming threat, Blues coach Sir John Kirwan warned his men against narrowing in on the pair.

"They've got a good kicking game; they've got an expansive game; they can play a tight game and they play with real intelligence," said Kirwan.

"And they've got two world class players that, when they are on their game, are very hard to control.

"That mix really makes them lethal."

The Blues could register three consecutive wins for the first time this season - back-to-back victories in the opening rounds were followed by a three-loss slump.

Kirwan said important lessons learned during the drought helped them bounce back to topple the Highlanders and Hurricanes in recent weeks.

Kicking has been given a prominent place within the game plan, after their running talents were 'suffocated' by the Chiefs in Mount Maunganui, while the set piece and defensive systems have been revamped.

"I think the biggest learning game for us was the Chiefs game ... that was a big learning curve for us and we think the Reds will bring the same."

Stepping up to answer an SOS call after Moala was sent home following a meeting with Blues coaching staff on Wednesday morning, rookie Albert Nikoro had no problems filling in at the eleventh hour.

In just his first start for the Blues, he isn't phased by the fact that he will be pitted against one of the Reds' most potent attackers - Rod Davies.

"Being in the 22 last week, you've got to expect the unexpected and be ready for anything," said the 20-year-old.

"All of the moves are becoming second nature now; it's just about getting the simple things right and just executing on the day."