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Luke Braid steps up

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Tuesday, March 22, 2011    Sportal.co.nz    Getty Images

Thrown into the start as the result of injury to his older, and more experienced brother, Braid junior, the former New Zealand age-group leader, showed he was maturing on the senior stage with an impressive display in a tough, bone-jarring contest.

"I was a bit nervous leading into that with my brother [Daniel] getting injured and having to fill in but it was a great outcome," he said.

Braid set himself the goal of ensuring quick rucked ball for the Blues backs and making his tackles, just basics but necessary to keep the continuity going, he said.

"That was my first big Super Rugby game. I played for the Chiefs last year but I only played against the Highlanders and Lions when they chucked the young guys in, so this was probably one of the biggest games I have played in my life.

"It was a good outcome, especially to pip them in the end with all those tries," he said.

The feeling was in the side that while the score was close the team saying of 'Blues pressure' would build and something would eventually give. And that came when Andrew Hore was yellow-carded in the last quarter.

Braid was able to keep his focus throughout by following a pattern of basic steps, listening to the side's playmakers and thriving off the good work put in by others in their specialist errors.

That lifted the excitement levels and helped work towards the team goals. Braid found he was patrolling the short side, an area the Hurricanes moved to after making initial mid-field break attempts only to be foiled by the defensive work of fellow flanker Jerome Kaino, especially.

Braid was disappointed that the Hurricanes' try, to prop Neemia Tialata, came through his avenue but it was a lesson absorbed and filed away.

He said that while there had been a lot of comment about how badly the Blues had played, especially in Perth, others had forgotten how good the team was through its depth and that had been borne out in the win.

He added that while players dropped were disappointed, they were still good players and had shown how keen they were to still be part of it all when they came on during the game.