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Blues to dig deep again for Crusaders

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Lynn McConnell     18 May 2018     Getty Images

Coach Tana Umaga said the Hurricanes had been pressured for long periods and he was keen to see the same effort and resilience, with some more finish, applied to their long-standing rivals.

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"We want to get through for 80 minutes, not just 50-60 and really hang in there. Not just hang in there but imprint ourselves on other teams. Again we've just got to continue building that," he said.

Achieving that against a side coming off a 31-point comeback to beat the Waratahs last weekend would be difficult.

"Their resilience and ability to bounce back from being down on the scoreboard and having total faith and having that real trust, the forwards taking over when they do get down on the scoreboard, is something that we want to make sure of.

"We want to be consistent in the pressure that we put on, not just with the ball but without the ball, knowing that it's never over with the Crusaders.

"They showed us last year that even if you do get up by more than 20 points it's never enough, you've got to make sure that you're there and keeping that hammer down all the time because they will find a way to come back," he said.
More injury frustrations have occurred for the Blues again with lock Patrick Tuipulotu out and wing Caleb Clarke taking a knock at training that has denied him a place, although that has coincided with the return from injury of Melani Nanai.

The locking position has been especially hard hit with Jimmy Tupou and Scott Scrafton out for the season due to knee injuries and Josh Goodhue suffering concussion.

That has resulted in Counties Manukau lock Matiaha Martin being selected for his debut game.

The players returning from injury were growing and the greater continuity of selection was welcomed as a chance to ensure the side's plan was maintained with a level of faith among the players, Umaga said.

With more experience at the back with Rieko Ioane, Nanai and Matt Duffie there was a greater understanding of when best to attack and Umaga said that had been an area of development during the season.

Injury had resulted in an unlikely pairing of Sonny Bill Williams and Orbyn Leger in the midfield and they had complemented each other well in their first outing last week.

"We all know about Sonny Bill but Orbyn Leger has really, for us, come in and firstly for us plugged a hole in terms of replacement for some of our injured midfielders whereas now he has really stepped up. He is a player who has a tireless work ethic, he makes very few errors and he cleans up a lot of things out the back and he's got a very good left foot. So that brings more balance and takes pressure off other players," he said.