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Blair Arrives At the Arms Park

8th September 2006

Following Ben Blair’s arrival in Cardiff yesterday, he took the opportunity to visit the Arms Park this morning before linking up with his new team mates at the Blues training centre in Hensol. caught up with him earlier today. Ben said,

“It was a pretty long journey and we stopped off in Singapore for a bit of time off but I’m just glad to get here in one piece. It looks like there’s a really good set up and I’ve heard a lot about it. I’m looking forward to getting out there and training with the boys and just excited about being here.”

Having had a tour of the training facilities and met up with his new team mates and coaches, Ben went on to explain his reasons for joining the Blues.

“I had a chat with Steve Hansen and Andrew Hore for some feedback, but I made up my mind myself. I’d been here before and thought it would be a good place to come to.

"Wales is a great rugby country and Cardiff obviously being the capital really appealed to me. I’m 27 I’ve had eight great years in New Zealand but I was ready for a change and didn’t want to go anywhere else and thought it would be good to test myself over here.

"There seems to be a smattering of Kiwi’s around the place, it’s good to have Xavier here who’s a link back to New Zealand and I hope to get the chance to know him a bit better because I always played against him, there’s a big rivalry between Auckland and Canterbury.

"It will be good to link up with Justin Marshall also I hope I can have a chat with him when he’s not talking to the papers.”

Ben ended his New Zealand club career on a winning note by helping Canterbury to victory against Otago, kicking a penalty and two conversions, in the Ranfurly Shield final at the Jade Stadium.

Full Back Blair, is the fifth new arrival at the Arms Park and is certain to give Director of Coaching David Young new options amongst his back division.

David Young said, "We are pleased to welcome Ben into the squad. His arrival will give us more flexibility in the back line and allow us to play different combinations in personnel. He is a great counter- attacking full back with fantastic speed and a keen eye for a gap in defences, plus his undoubted kicking ability is a bonus."

Ben Blair Profile
Height 5.7 ft
Weight 13.2 st
Age 27
Honours New Zealand (4 caps)

Career Highlights include:
Test Caps – 4
Appearances – Canterbury 1999-2006 (77 games, 943 points), Crusaders 2001-02, 04 (28 games, 159 points), Highlanders 2005-06 (23 games, 217 points), 376 Super rugby points

37 points v Counties in 1999 is the most by a Canterbury player in an NPC match. It was achieved in just his fourth match for the province

Only Simon Culhane has more points on debut for the All Blacks than Blair’s 38 against Ireland A at Belfast in 2001.

He scored the most points of any player in a single first class game during the NZ season on four different occasions, including in 3 consecutive seasons – 1999 (37 v Counties), 2000 (36 v South Africa U21), 2001 (38 v Ireland A) & 2003 (31 v Hawke’s Bay)

None of the All Black wings can match Blair’s feat of having scored five first class hat –tricks of tries

All four of his Test caps were earned overseas – v Scotland & Argentina 2001, v England & Wales 2002

He has 456 points in the Ranfurly Shield. Only Grant Fox has more

Featured in 23 out of a possible 24 games for the Highlanders during his two years in Dunedin.

He scored 21 points or more in NZ first class games on 17 different occasions, and bettered 30 points in a match five times

Ben Blair will be appearing on Scrum V this Sunday.