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'Na, never. Not even at under 8s': Blues hooker's historic night out

By Ben Smith
(Photo by Fiona Goodall/Getty Images)

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Blues hooker Kurt Eklund was the beneficiary of the firing maul, scoring a hat-trick in the 46-16 win over Moana Pasifika at Eden Park.

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The rolling maul has been a weapon for both the Blues and Moana Pasifika over their two game stretch, with Blues hooker Ricci Riccitelli scoring two tries on Tuesday night while lock Luke Romano added one more in the first win. Moana Pasifika staged their fightback with two rolling maul tries on their own in the first loss.

The Blues continued that trend on Saturday night, and Eklund admitted it was his first ever game that he had scored three tries in.

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“Na, never. Not even at under 8s. Bloody hell. Full credit to the boys, eh?” he said.

“It’s cool, man. Awesome, eh? Luckily, as Leon alluded to before, it’s been a pretty special night. First game back here at Eden Park with a crowd in front of all our family
and friends, the haka, against Moana Pasifika.

“As he said before, a lot of our friends are in there too. Been a really cool evening and to get a bit of meat from the boys’ hard work, you’ve gotta take it.

The amount of tries that hookers are scoring has increased as teams rely on the rolling maul more frequently. Eklund explained that they plan for the situation regularly but due to having two games in close proximity this week there was less contact.

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“Mr Coventry loves it, eh? We’ll be in there a couple times a week at least, banging each other up. Been an interesting week this week though. Obviously with the game mid-
week so they’ve taken the physicality out of our trainings a little bit so we weren’t banging bodies but we were making sure we were getting into the right places and things like that,” he said.

“Like I said before, I’m just lucky to hang on the back of all the boys’ hard work. They drag me over the line and I get the pats on the back so I’ll take it.”

When asked how hard are they to defend, Eklund said ‘you have to have your wits about you’ in order to stop it as they are ‘hard to stop’.

“We’re lucky that that one got called back. They’re pretty fickle with the boys getting in front and there are cameras everywhere now. You gotta get it right but if the boys have
their tails up, they’re hard to stop.

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“Some teams out there are pretty good at it so you’ve gotta have your wits about you both sides.”

Head coach Leon MacDonald stopped short of calling hookers the new wingers for their try scoring feats, but credited the success of the maul to the side’s discipline to earn penalties to get those opportunities from five out.

“I think discipline… That points to discipline. We’ve worked really hard on our discipline and we were disappointed at the start of the game we weren’t squeaky clean but if you
control the ball and you attack space and you get defence under pressure, you generally get rewarded with penalties and that allows you to go to your maul.

“I thought our maul was patient. We worked hard and we kept it on them and we put a lot of pressure on them. They got over the line as well so it’s a tough part of the game to defend.”

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