Francis eyeing Blues pivot role

Date published: September 22 2016

Blues utility back Piers Francis has set his sights firmly on wearing the Auckland-based franchise's number 10 jersey in Super Rugby next year.

Francis has impressed at fly-half for Counties Manukau during this year's Mitre 10 Cup campaign and after being part of the Blues' wider training group in 2016, when he played several matches at inside centre, he was signed by the two-time tournament winners for 2017.

"It's a dream come true to be signed as a fulltime player," he told Stuff.

"I've been signed a couple of times in a wider training group role with the Chiefs and the Blues, but it's an awesome feeling to be included in the full squad for next year.

"There have been a few signings and I think there's going to be exciting times coming up for the Blues and I'm looking forward to the challenge."

Blues head coach Tana Umaga believes the English-born back will play a key role in his team's 2017 campaign, and with All Blacks inside centre Sonny Bill Williams also heading to the franchise, Francis is excited to about the prospect of lining up in his favoured pivot position.

"Because of the signings the Blues have made in the midfield and there are some pretty big guys there, with Ihaia (West) and myself and being back in the No 10 jersey for Counties, it's a [Blues] jersey I've got my eye on," he added.

"It took me a while to adjust back to No 10, but I love it. I do like No 12 too to be fair and to have a couple of strings to your bow is always good.

"But the number 10 is something I keep close to my heart and I'm looking forward to the challenge with Ihaia at the Blues."

What boosts Francis' chances of starting at fly-half for the Blues is the fact that he has played under Umaga at Counties in 2015, along with Counties scrum-half Augustine Pulu who will also play for the Blues in 2017 after joining them from the Chiefs.

"It was nice to have the season with Counties last year and leading into the Blues, which helped me, particularly with my understanding of what Tana wanted to put on the pitch," said Francis.

"As any player would tell you, Tana is a good man and he's pretty straight up and down.

"I like to think I get on well with him and there's a decent relationship there, as he's got with many of his players."