Captaincy new test for Flavell

Photosport     01 Feb 2007     Photosport

The 53-cap veteran of Super rugby's captaincy of the Blues has raised a few eyebrows given temperament problems of the past, however, it smacks of poacher turned gamekeeper and could be an inspirational move by the Blues management.

As coach David Nucifora quipped: "If Troy Flavell told me to do something I would do it."

Flavell accepted that he would be under increased pressure in the role which has come about due to last season's captain Keven Mealamu being included among the 22 All Blacks withdrawn from matchplay until the middle stages of the competition.

"Obviously, a lot of people are going to be watching to see how I perform in this position," he said.

Mealamu, and others with captaincy experience, have offered their advice to him but he is keen to lead by example.

Coming up against the championship titleholders in the first game is not such a daunting prospect either.

"It's a big occasion, they are the defending champions, an experienced side with a lot of talent. It's a big one but I've got confidence in the guys here and we have the personnel to put a lot of pressure on," he said.

"Like a lot of teams, they build momentum throughout the season so I think it is good to get them first up."

Flavell also has experience to call on in his side, and some key players have returned from severe injuries including hooker Derren Witcombe (neck), Angus Macdonald (knee) and Flavell himself with a shoulder that needed surgery.

"In the last couple of week we have gained a lot of confidence. A lot of these guys have not played for five or six months, including myself, and we've only had a couple of hit-outs but we are building good momentum," he said.

And as a player who went overseas to pursue his career at a relatively young age, only to return and regain a place in the All Blacks, Flavell believed the New Zealand rugby would see more players following Aaron Mauger who announced that he was going to play at Leicester once the Rugby World Cup campaign was finished, with a view to returning to New Zealand in three years time.

Flavell said he thought if players were treated right in New Zealand, they would take the chance to get some working overseas experience, share some time with their families and then look to return to New Zealand to put something back into the game.