Blues not looking past Moana Pasifika

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Captain and flanker Dalton Papali'i said the Blues would seek to maintain their game plan, something they had all bought into, and that was down to achieving their individual roles, and once they did that, the bigger picture followed.

They would not have next week's game with the Crusaders in their minds. The competition demanded a focus on the now, and that was giving respect to Moana Pasifika.

"I've learnt the hard way in this competition where if you start thinking ahead, you trip up in the games that you need to win, and this game, we know it is a big one.

"Results show that they have yet to win a game but have been in games until the last wire, and they could easily have had a few wins. We know this week will be a big one; we need this.

"They've got key players all around the field, and as you can see, they have a few highlight reels around the field and can score tries from everywhere, so one good thing with our coaches and players is that we leave no stone unturned, and we try to learn the opposition we are playing so I think we are in a really good spot at the moment.

Papali'i was delighted at how the Blues pack responded in the heat of Lautoka to shut the home team out of the game for long periods by achieving dominance up front.

"It was really good. We talked all week about how hot it would be over there. The Drua like to play fast, so we knew – I said to the forwards before the game, 'It starts with us and ends with us'. So we couldn't afford to fall into their tempo and knew we had to play our set piece.

"That was the reason we took the game away, we controlled the set piece and that's a credit to our lineout leaders and our scrum leaders. They held each other accountable and held everyone else accountable and that shows we're building, still building in that area."

Papali'i said having Roger Tuivasa-Sheck back on the field was a lift for the side.

"He's been in the team for a long time, but you look and see him, you still get a special feeling knowing that calibre of player is in your team, and the person he is on the field. So I'm excited to see how he goes."

It was a similar feeling with Akira Ioane starting on the side of the scrum.

"He has so much experience and so much talent. You would think he is in his mid-30s, he has been around for so long but seeing him, and being on the field with him is always special."

Papali'i was confident Cameron Suafoa would handle his shift from lock to No8. He had been working at No8 throughout training all year. He would have the support of his fellow loose forwards, and he knew what he had to do.

Forwards coach Paul Tito said the display by the pack in Suva was pleasing, especially now that the weather was turning and there was likely to be greater emphasis on the forwards' control.

He said the set piece would be tested over the last weeks of the competition, and they needed to be rock solid.

They were getting better. They started the season looking to build on different areas, and the pieces of the jigsaw were coming together now.

Tito said Suafoa was a lock-loose hybrid-type player, and they were looking forward to him at No8.

"We've seen his skillset grow this season."

Tito said there was a crosstown rivalry feeling about the game. Players and coaches knew each other, and it would be a case of the Blues controlling and applying what they do well.

"Filo [Tiatia] will have their forwards fired up and they'll be coming to check out our scrum and our driving lineout. Their breakdown is strong and they have some good loose forwards. Their mindset this week will be to knock over the Blues."

Blues v Moana Pasifika: Saturday 6 May, 7.05pm, Eden Park. TICKETS.


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