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Kiwi imports have been huge says Blues lock

Guinness PRO12 Editor

23 Jun 2010

Cardiff Blues lock Bradley Davies has hailed the impact of the region’s New Zealand imports just days ahead of the second Test between Wales and the All Blacks.

Davies is in line to start for his country in the Hamilton encounter this Saturday having done the same last weekend when New Zealand ran out 42-9 winners in Dunedin.

But while Davies is currently facing a whole host of top Kiwis on Wales’ summer tour, the 23-year-old is more used to playing alongside some of New Zealand’s most impressive exports.

Blues skipper Paul Tito, No8 Xavier Rush, full back Ben Blair and centre Casey Laulala have all been in superb form for the Blues this season having previously represented the All Blacks.

The Kiwi quartet moved away from their homeland for a chance to try their hand in the Magners League and Davies admits they have all made a huge contribution since arriving in Cardiff.

"They've been awesome for the Blues and I've learned a lot from them, especially Xavier and Paul,” said Davies, who has become a Blues and Wales regular with a series of outstanding performances in both attack and defence.

”Ben and Casey have been awesome for us as well.

"It's been great to have them around the squad because you learn a lot from those guys."

Davies says his club captain’s help hasn’t just been limited to the domestic scene either.

Tito was a former colleague of Otago second row Tom Donnelly – the man Davies is likely to go head-to-head with on Saturday.

And the former Wellington Hurricane turned Blue has happily given his Welsh colleague the inside track on his fellow countryman – even if his help won’t be greeted with applause back in his homeland.

"I'm big mates with Paul Tito and he's said Donnelly’s a really good player so I've got my work cut out this week if I get selected,” added Davies.

"I think the New Zealand forwards do a lot of double-hitting and they work really hard, especially Brad Thorn and people like that who have an incredible work-rate. They get around the park a bit more (than players in the northern hemisphere).”

But while Tito’s advice and the experience of last weekend might help in some way in Warren Gatland’s home town, Davies admits Wales will need to perform for the full 80 minutes if they are to level the series before flying home.

Wales produced an impressive first-half display against the world’s number one ranked side last time out, but Davies and co fell away in the final half hour as the All Blacks ran out comfortable winners.

"I don't think it's fitness – just that maybe we ran out of steam a bit because we gave everything. We don't want to use it as an excuse but it's been a long season and a couple of the boys have played a lot of games.

"But we are dying to play for our country and as soon as you get named to play you're up for it.

"We're proud men and proud to wear our shirt for our country and when we let ourselves down like that it hurts us personally and collectively.

"Most of those tries were self-inflicted, whether it was a bad kick, bad chase or missed tackle, when normally we pride ourselves on defence.

"Obviously New Zealand are one of the best teams in the world and they punish you for any mistake you make and that's what happened.

"We want to put it right at the weekend, put up a bigger fight and push them a lot longer than 50 minutes.

"It's a big challenge, but it's awesome to get the chance to test ourselves against the best team in the world in their country."