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Mealamu Wants Job Done Before Celebrating Milestone

Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media
Mealamu Wants Job Done Before Celebrating Milestone

By Robert Lowe of NZPA

Auckland, March 17 NZPA - Skipper Keven Mealamu wants to see the Blues do the business first before he celebrates a personal Super 14 rugby milestone on Friday night.

The match against the Brumbies will be the All Black hooker's 100th for the Blues, extending the franchise record he broke when he got to 98 in the win over the Reds at Ballymore last month.

"It hasn't sunk in yet, but it would be nice to celebrate after we've got the job done," he said today.

"We've got a big task in front of us and making sure we do that well is very important."

Mealamu's Super rugby debut came against the Brumbies 10 years ago and his total number of appearances stands at 110, the balance coming from a season he spent with the Chiefs in 2002.

His favourite memory from all those matches comes as little surprise -- the Blues' 21-17 win over the Crusaders in the 2003 final.

"That's my only championship," he said.

"It stands out because it was at Eden Park as well, in front of our home crowd. It was a special moment for me."

The upcoming Blues-Brumbies clash comes on the eve of Mealamu's 31st birthday.

It will also be the first Super 14 fixture of the season at Eden Park, where the capacity has been reduced to 17,500 because of redevelopment work ahead of the 2011 World Cup.

The Blues, who are coming off their bye, head into the contest back in 10th spot on the points table with a 2-2 win-loss record.

The Brumbies are fifth, with four wins and a solitary loss to the competition leaders and defending champions the Bulls.

One of the feature match-ups will be in the front row, where the Blues' all-All Black combination of Tony Woodcock, Mealeamu and John Afoa will be up against the Brumbies' all-Wallaby trio of Ben Alexander, Stephen Moore and Salesi Ma'afu.

"Definitely there'll be a bit of banter up the front there," Mealamu said.

"That's the awesome thing about this competition. You're playing against quality opposition all the time."

Mealamu said the Blues wouldn't be lacking motivation after having had the week off.

"It's hard having to sit back and watch everyone get points the board," he said.

"The boys are definitely excited. I know they'll be up for it."

He said a key lesson from their last-up 33-20 defeat to the Crusaders was the need to eradicate mistakes.

"It's about making sure we can nail our game and we can limit the errors."

The season so far had shown that the difference between the good teams and the others was the number of errors made, he said.

The Blues have made one change to their starting 15, with All Black Isaia Toeva coming back from a hip injury.

Toeava will make his return not at centre, where he started the season, but at fullback, with Paul Williams dropping to the bench.

The Brumbies will be without veteran Wallaby centre Stirling Mortlock, who is being rested as a precaution after suffering a neck/shoulder injury in the 24-22 win over the Sharks last weekend.

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