Blues coach John Kirwan has praised the impact New Zealand half-back Piri Weepu has had on the squad.
Weepu came in for heavy criticism last season for returning from the World Cup out of shape.
However Weepu has returned for the 2013 campaign fit and raring to go - much to the delight of Kirwan, who has taken over the reins at the Auckland franchise from Pat Lam.
"He's shown great leadership, great guidance of the young guys and great input into what we're doing as a team," said Kirwan.
"I didn't know Piri (before I started coaching the Blues), I'd heard a lot of great things about him in the environment but he's actually been brilliant."
Weepu himself is looking forward to the challenge of inspiring the back division.
"I want to help out these younger boys a lot more, not just by saying it but by doing it as well," he said.
"I guess it's going to be a key role that I'm going to have to take on because the average age in the backline isn't 27, it's 21 or 22 so I need to pass on my knowledge to anyone in the backline in terms of guidance and making them understand what it's like to be a professional rugby player."
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