Blackwell keen to build on breakout season

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He said every year was about taking more opportunities and last year he got to play a lot more than in previous seasons.

 

The 2015 New Zealand Under-20 representative suffered an injury in the 2017 Mitre 10 Cup competition that severely impacted on his 2018 Super Rugby hopes but he returned in 2019 to make a significant impact.

 

"Now I understand what Super Rugby is about and the level of competition we will be playing at so I'm excited to get out there but I also know that within the team there is still a lot of competition for spots so I'm definitely not taking it for granted and I want to earn my spot again," he said.

 

Blackwell said while there had been changes in the squad and management with Jason Holland stepping into the head coaching role after John Plumtree's elevation to the All Blacks panel, it was the sort of thing that happened every year and they had been working well since coming together in their preparation.

 

While the change in coaching for any team, once they had started preparation, could be a bump in the road, where the Hurricanes had got to subsequently was a best case scenario, he said.

 

"His [Holland's] mannerisms and the way he treats the team are the same as it has been in the past and I'm not sure how he's personally taking it but as a player it's been pretty seamless and his coaching style is liked by a lot of the boys so it's just another positive," he said.

An early taste of how the side is shaping will be seen in their pre-season game with the Crusaders in Ashburton.

 

Blackwell said while there was interest in the Crusaders game to see how what they had been working on and their respective combinations were going, in terms of the 18-round competition thie game didn't matter a lot.

 

"It will be good to see what happens on Saturday and we will see if we are where we want to be," he said.

 

Former Blues lock Scott Scrafton may have thought his transfer to Wellington would see him pick up some relevant coaching from a former lock in Plumtree, a sharp about turn had occurred with the change to Holland.

 

But Scrafton, who had 17 games for the Blues since 2016, said he was enjoying Wellington and had been delighted with his first experience of Holland's coaching.

 

"He's a bit of a wizard. It's been awesome to start learning from him about different aspects of my game and hopefully I'll learn more as the season goes on.

 

"He's real down to earth, he likes to be asked questions and he's a real good teacher," he said.

 

With the injury concerns of the last two seasons Scrafton said he was hopeful of staying on the field this year, training well and playing well and then seeing what happened.