Mealamu wary of tough task in Christchurch
If anyone was needed to remind the younger members of the Blues side what is involved in winning in Christchurch against the Crusaders it would be hard to go past Keven Mealamu.
"It just shows how hard it is to win down there," he said.
Preparation was vital for the side and knowing what conditions they might expect, even down to colder weather than what they were used to, was all part of the mindset to be able to turn up and play, Mealamu said.
The intimidatory factor about the Crusaders was the way they played at home.
"It's probably not so much place, but the way they put things together when they are playing on their home patch. It's just like any side playing at home. They're a pretty proud team at home so we just want to make sure we can go down there and be ourselves and play our rugby down there," he said.
As a more senior player who had known ups and downs with the Blues, Mealamu said the satisfaction he has taken in the year of recover that 2013 has been was seeing the young players go out and express themselves.
"What has impressed me is they are not scared to try something and the way they prepare really well for games," he said.
Often you could look at them during the week and wonder if they were a bit loose but they were enjoying themselves and showing an ability to switch onto the task at the right times.
They were the first strike of an emerging group of talent in the Auckland scene that had not been encouraged for many years. Extending that promise was a case of getting the players playing together and working with the quality of coaches the Blues had on board this year.
Mealamu has been battling with calf muscle injuries of late but said he had put those behind him and was wanting to get out and play rugby.
He does daily exercises to strengthen the calves to try and avoid injury.
A good deal of lineout work had gone into this week's preparation because the Crusaders with locks Sam Whitelock and Luke Romano, and now No.8 Kieran Read back in the mix, were probably the best defensive lineout in the competition, he said.
"They do their homework, they are always well prepared when you play against them so it's a case of making sure we're nice and sharp so we go down there and execute.
"We know the pressure is going to be there but for us to be really cool and calm and to do our job under that pressure is going to be what is required to go well down there," he said.