Luatua to fill Kaino void
Wellington - Steven Luatua will have a chance to display his leadership skills as he presses his claim for a spot in New Zealand's squad for the Rugby World Cup after being named skipper of the Blues for the remainder of the season.
The 24-year-old blindside flanker, who has played 14 tests for New Zealand, was elevated to the captaincy after a broken finger ended the Super Rugby season for his fellow All Blacks loose forward Jerome Kaino.
Luatua was handed the job by coach John Kirwan despite the presence in the squad of experienced test hooker Keven Mealamu and the fact that he had lost the number six shirt to teenager Akira Ioane.
"I was a bit in shock and left for words. I am really humbled and at the same time gutted about the injury to Jerome," Luatua said in a news release.
"Growing up as a kid in the region, this is something you aspire to. We still have Kevie but he believes this is the best direction to head in so I will give it my best shot."
The struggling Blues, who also lost fullback Charles Piutau for the season last weekend, will be looking to back up their second win of the season when they meet the Melbourne Rebels on Friday.