“Everyone is champing at the bit to play” - Eklund

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Hooker Kurt Eklund said the Blues were aware of comments about where last year's trans-Tasman title stood compared to the regular Super Rugby title.


"We'll take it, it's still a trophy we got to hold up and put in the cabinet. We loved it," he said.


There was excitement in the pre-season preparation to build on that.


Eklund said the change to a red traffic light system in the Covid-19 epidemic had resulted in different methods being used at training.


"They've jumbled up a few of our training. We're a bit more spread out, and I think we're going to spend a lot more time o`utdoors, but the boys are still keen.


"We're going to play footy, we'll tick all the boxes and make sure we can still get into it," he said.


"This red light thing is going to be pretty interesting. It's going to be quite strict on what we're allowed to do socially. We've just got to love coming to work each day, which we do, and hanging out with our mates here because I think that's as good as it's going to get," he said.


Starting the season without crowds to create an atmosphere was disappointing.

"But we still want to represent Auckland and the wider region with pride. With or without crowds being at the stadium we still want to do them proud," he said.


Eklund said he enjoyed his experience with the Maori All Blacks last year, especially having the chance to work with captain and fellow hooker Ash Dixon, who wasn't slow in providing some of the skills he had learned during his career.


"It was an awesome environment to be in and it definitely helps," he said.


Eklund said while there were players unable to play in the Bunnings NPC last year due to Auckland's lockdown there were also benefits.


"For a lot of the boys, they've been playing rugby for a long time, and they don't get much time away from rugby, so to have a few months where they didn't have a schedule and could train on their own accord, I think they found their hunger for rugby again.


"I know through injury and that when you can't play you get excited to get the boots back on. Everyone is champing at the bit to play, and looking forward to it," he said.


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