Trials and tribulations of Troy

Perhaps the kingpin of a Blues resurgence this year has been the mature and hardened leadership of Troy Flavell.

Something of a prodigal son for New Zealand rugby, Flavell left for Japan in 2003 in something of infamy, having recorded a notorious red card for re-arranging Chiefs hooker Greg Smith’s head with his studs.

But the return of Flavell to Super rugby, so far, has been overall successful, as he is leading a side currently sitting second on the log.

But still the controversy remains.

Flavell has recorded two yellow cards this season, one for use of his boots, and another, which he received in last weekend’s loss to the Stormers, for interfering with jumpers in the lineout.

The Blues have now recorded two straight losses, and, with another tough fixture looming against the Bulls at Loftus this Friday, the heat is on somewhat.

But Blues coach David Nucifora has thrown his weight behind the cause of his skipper, as he illustrated to Rugby365. And that support shows no signs of changing, even in the wake of two losses.

“Troy has been outstanding,” said Nucifora.

“He’s been exemplary all year [in terms of discipline], he was last year when he came back for those few games, and it is not to say that people don’t ask the question of him at times, but he is just a more mature footballer.”

“He is focussed on what’s best for the team and he’s played some great rugby this year – age is a part of it, but having those few years in Japan probably did him the world of good. Over there foreign players have a fair bit of pressure on them and any sort of illegal play over there gets frowned upon and he learnt to just chill out a bit and focus on playing the game and it has done him the world of good.

“I think the captaincy has been great for Troy, he’s really focussed his efforts on the team, what’s best for the team and he works very hard on his own game, and in saying that he’s just been a wonderful leader for these guys, as you see him on the field he is just one of these guys that leads by example.”

Nucifora also believes that Flavell’s performance would not have escaped the attention of national selection.

“He’s probably made Graham Henry think about it [selecting him for the world cup].

“What Graham and all national coaches are looking at is consistency of performance and that’s what Troy has been able to do this year.

“What they also do is look at the big games and we’re starting to get towards the latter rounds and obviously semi-finals and the guys that can continue to play consistently well at this pressurised end of the competition will attract the attention of national coaches.”

The pressure that is on the Blues this weekend may just be Flavell’s opportunity to finally prove that he has what it takes to sustain a playing career at the highest echelons.


365 Digital

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