By Jim Kayes
All Blacks flanker Jerome Kaino picked up a nasty looking injury in the Blues 29-12 win against the Highlanders in their final super rugby preseason match in Auckland this afternoon.
Kaino’s injury though, a finger to the eye, is not expected to sideline him for next Friday's Super Rugby opener against the Crusaders at Eden Park, according to Pat Lam.
There is not the same certainty around Piri Weepu, though Lam is not worried about his star recruit's fitness.
“Piri’s determined to get himself in better shape, and the same with the other guys who are there, but the acid comes on from the other guys who are in good shape and that’s what you want: competition and guys pushing each other,” says Lam.
And Weepu, too, is relaxed about how he has come into the season after enjoying his post world cup break.
“I guess I was blowing the last two or three minutes of that last quarter but at this stage I feel alright with how I am. I’ve always got time to get a bit fitter,” says Weepu.
And if Weepu's not right Michael Hobbs showed he is more than decent cover at first-five setting up a try for Alby Mathewson, and scoring another, but he is not getting ahead of himself.
“Piri’s obviously a world class player who can play nine or 10 and Gareth’s a young kid with a lot of talent itching to get out there, so you know there’s people nipping at my heals,” says Hobbs.
And a fit Weepu is likely to have a big say in where he plays.
“At this stage I’ll see how Pat feels, if it’s nine or 10, but I wouldn’t mind having a try at 10,” says Weepu.
And that was, after all, the deal he signed up to when he joined the Blues.