Duffie keen to put lessons to work for the Blues

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Friday, February 16, 2018    Lynn McConnell    Getty Images

One of the newcomers to All Blacks rugby last year for the end of season tour, the former Melbourne Storm player who has performed so impressively for North Harbour in Mitre 10 Cup play and who became a key part of the Blues last year, Duffie found he thrived in the international environment.

Duffie said it had been 'cool' to be part of the All Blacks' environment, speaking with the coaches and experiencing what the All Blacks' culture was all about.

"Parts were what I expected and parts were massively eye-opening in terms of logistics of getting the squad around. That was crazy, I could not believe just how much goes into it.

"In terms of the actual rugby stuff and the intensity of training I expected that. I had been told a lot about that. I think it's probably good I went in as an older sort of guy because going in as a young guy it could be quite overwhelming," he said.

Getting 15 minutes in the Barbarians game hadn't amounted to much as he wasn't required to tackle anyone and couldn't get his hands on the ball.

"Nevertheless it was the best 15 minutes ever," he said.

"Going into the French Barbarians game I knew I was going to play 80 minutes because we didn't have any backs on the bench so I was super excited for that, especially the way the game unfolded.

"We were under the pump for a bit and there were a lot of young, and inexperienced, guys out there and we sort of managed to knock them off. They had some really good players, experienced with a lot of Test matches so that was awesome," he said.

It had been definitely one of the weirder experiences in terms of the crowd, the referees and the dynamic of it all.

"You would brush against someone's chin in a tackle and they would replay it four or five times on the big screen and then you would get absolutely clobbered by one of their players around the ears and it wouldn't get played back.

"It's one of those things you expect when you go overseas but I didn't realise it was going to be that ruthless," he said.

To overcome all the obstacles, including a player in the sin bin, it had been a great experience.

As on any tour there were things to think about for future application but he didn't think it involved changing his game but he was told he was in there for a reason and it was about fine tuning the skills he has already got and adding a few things.

"I've reflected on that over the summer and I've got a lot of motivation this year to play well.

"I want to play well for the Blues rather than I just want to play well to get back in the All Blacks," he said.

While he has only recently been back training full-time with the Blues, he had been in and out of training and had been aware through social media of the efforts going in to bond the group and that was obvious when joining them.

Winning the Tens boosted the togetherness of the squad and that would be its biggest benefit for the campaign ahead, he said.

Duffie's connection with North Harbour, and the inclusion of a solid group of players from that union, and Northland had helped the identity of the team.

"I'm a massive fan of a lot of the Harbour guys that I've played with in Mitre 10 Cup. Two guys, Glenn Preston and Mike Tamoaieta, I was a massive fan of and I was really stoked when they got signed with the Blues because I know they can add to our environment," he said.

"That's the coolest thing about what Harbour have done. We're going well and more guys are getting picked up and a lot of the wider group, injury cover guys, are from Harbour as well.

"And we've got a good bunch of Tanis [Taniwhas] who have come down from up north and obviously the guys from Auckland are super talented. We've got a good mix at the moment and it's just about getting us all going in the same direction," he said.