Vodacom Super 14

Braid to release Blue demons

2009-01-27 12:13
Daniel Braid

Auckland - After eight seasons wearing a Blues jersey in Auckland, former All Black Daniel Braid is braced for a "weird" Reds debut on Friday night.

Not only does the jersey colour change but, by a quirk of fate, the new Reds flanker will line up against his old team in his old home town.

"It's quite funny really, to be up against them straight away, I guess get all the demons out straight away," Braid said on Monday.

"It will be quite weird ... playing in Auckland and not being in the home team.

"At least I know how they go, how they play, and hopefully they take it easy on me."

Although it's only a Super 14 pre-season trial, there's little chance of that for Braid who left Auckland to become Reds' inaugural marquee international.

While he received Auckland's good wishes on his surprise switch, the 27-year-old expects the same sort of reception another former Blues forward, Ali Williams, received on his return when playing for the Crusaders last year.

"I guess the position I'm in will make them want to target me even more as I'll try and get in there and steal a bit of ball," he said.

"I'll be in position to take a few shots from them.

"It will be a bit of feeling like when we played against Ali Williams last year, there was a fair bit of noise the first few times when he ran the ball up.

"It will be good for when we play them in the competition game (on April 25), when all the pressure's on and I won't have to think about coming up against the old team."

Braid hasn't received any pre-match sledges from old mates yet but he knows they will come at Waitakere Stadium.

"They haven't got my Australian number," Braid said. "(But) I bumped into a few mates when I was back over there at Christmas time and there were a few friendly jibes."

After playing the last his five Tests for New Zealand against Australia in July before being cast off for the rest of the Tri-Nations as Richie McCaw returned from injury, Braid made the call to escape McCaw's shadow.

His two-year Reds deal includes an option in his favour after the 2009 Super 14, which could see him back in Auckland later this year.

But the super-fit ball scavenger is feeling refreshed and rejuvenated by the change of environment.

His experience and work ethic has also seen him immediately inducted into the Reds leadership group.

"I'm really enjoying it so far," he said. "I'd been in Auckland for eight years, since I was in school pretty much, so it's been good to be in a totally new group of guys and they're a good bunch."

Braid will be one of 10 Reds top-liners named on Tuesday to play their first game of the year after being rested from the 17-5 loss to NSW on Saturday night.

The Reds will also have a new captain with prop Greg Holmes in line to take over from No.8 Leroy Houston, before Berrick Barnes returns to the helm against the Force on February 5.


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