Blues need better start against Highlanders

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Wing Mark Telea, a product of Massey High School and with 30 games for the Blues since 2020, said after their below-par first-half effort in their 32-20 win 10 days ago, a change of direction after halftime was necessary to get ahead of the southerners.


"Hopefully, we can get that better start. We're a good team and believe in ourselves and we'll be putting that on ourselves," he said.


Covid-19 forced the postponement of last weekend's game against the Crusaders.


Telea said he had been one of the more fortunate players in not being hit too hard by the virus, and he enjoyed having the squad running together again on Tuesday.


Playing the Highlanders in consecutive games was something new, and they were looking forward to playing them in the faster conditions under the roof in Dunedin.


"We're trying to play at a fast speed. It's not always going to be fast, but that's the speed we want to play at. I feel like doing that we play a lot better football, and we look after it [the ball] better," he said.



Telea said he was trying to get more involved in games as often as possible. Nowadays, outside backs need to get their hands on the ball. The more involved he could get, the better it was for the team.


Saturday's game starts a tough week as they also face consecutive games against Moana Pasifika, one in midweek and then another at the weekend.


"It's a challenge, and it will test us, but our coaches have a lot of faith and belief in us," he said.


Telea, now in his third season of professional rugby, knows all about challenges.


A broken scapula he suffered early in the Tasman NPC campaign last year was a rare setback.


"Any injury takes a toll on the body, and mind as well," he said.


Having settled into playing year-round, he had concentrated on staying fit and getting as much game time as possible.


Instead, he had to work on his rehabilitation after surgery.


The medical teams in Tasman and the Blues kept in touch with him, and he enjoyed good support. His goal was to resume playing at the start of the Super Rugby season because he was so eager to play.


"I didn't want to let the injury hold me back. I did all my rehab in Nelson. I got into running again early," he said.


Telea said the move to Tasman from North Harbour in 2020 had been good for his game. He had to take more of a leadership role in a team where there were a lot of good players all learning from each other.


"We all push each other and there's a culture that we are all there to work. Nothing was ever given to you and you had to work. There are so many good players, and so much competitive energy. You can see that when we play, it is good," he said.



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