At Eden Park , Blues Head Coach Sir John Kirwan revealed his 2013 squad at a free breakfast event exclusively for members, sponsors and members of the media. Several past Auckland and Blues players such as Craig Innes and Joeli Vidiri were also on hand to meet the new Blues players and offer some advice to a few of the newcomers .
"We have some young and exciting players joining our mix. Pairing them up with our senior players and those who have a few Super Rugby campaigns under their belt, makes for an exciting combination," said Kirwan. "Having a yarn with former players as well as hearing directly from those people who commit their support to us as members and sponsors , I think is a fantastic way to launch our campaign."
With more than 750 guests in attendance, Kirwan shared his thoughts for the Blues in 2013 and why, along with the support of his fellow coaches, Grant Doorey, Mick Byrne and Sir Graham Henry, picked these players.
"We had specific criteria that players had to meet. About their existing skill set - what they bring to us now as well as how we can develop it; the character of each player and their desire to be part of this franchise and finally the sum of all parts - how we see this team gelling together as well as pushing each other to exceed expectations."
Kirwan was joined by Doorey and Byrne as well as rookie signing Marty McKenzie and Anthony Boric for a Q&A session with SKY Sport's Scotty Stevenson, taking questions from members and sponsors.
"We wanted to do this with our members and sponsors because they are the people who commit to us and are vital to our franchise," said Blues lock Anthony Boric. "As a player, whether it's your first year or your fifth, it's important to understand and appreciate the support of these people as they are the ones who have our backs."
While final squads will be comprised of 37 players, only 32 players per franchise are announced today, with the remaining five players in each squad to be advised within the coming weeks.
BLUES SQUAD - 2013 INVESTEC SUPER RUGBY
Frank Halai, Waisake Naholo, Charles Piutau, Rene Ranger, Marty McKenzie. Centres: Malakai Fekitoa, George Moala, Francis Saili, Jackson Willison. First-fives: Baden Kerr, Chris Noakes. Halfbacks: Bryn Hall, Piri Weepu, Jamison Gibson-Park, Kane Barrett, Luke Braid, Steven Luatua, Brendon O'Connor, Ronald Raaymakers, Peter Saili. Locks: Anthony Boric, Liaki Moli, Culum Retallick, Ali Williams. Props: Charlie Faumuina, Tom McCartney, Tim Perry, Angus Ta'avao, Ofa Tu'ungafasi. Hookers: Keven Mealamu, Quentin MacDonald, James Parsons.