Blues ‘ready to go’ for Crusaders grudge match

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"We'll be ready to go. We'll make some key changes in key positions, and that's going to help in some areas we were unhappy with."

The Blues went into the game down on experience in some positions. But the pack performed well.

"The scrum did a good job in Fiji last week, and was strong again. Our lineout functioned pretty well, bar one. It wasn't all doom and gloom."

However, the drop in discipline, one of the side's strong points in 2023, was disappointing.

"We can fix that quickly because we know we can get that right.

"It wasn't a polished performance, but it's four points. We've lost some games playing well, so I'm happy.

He admired Moana Pasifika's play.

"They were fantastic; their physicality and endeavour. They competed and showed massive passion and heart. They should take some confidence into the end of the season. I'm sure they can tip someone else up."

Moana Pasifika coach Aaron Mauger was in no doubt that while the side was still to achieve a win this season, the rugby they were playing was better than last year.

"Just because we haven't got results doesn't mean we're not improving. You can see in the performance [on Saturday], we're not far off. We've had five or six of those games we're in with a chance to win."

Some polishing could see things turn quickly.

"We always knew it was going to take three to five years to be competing with the best. We still have high aspirations, so it's disappointing we're not there yet, but it doesn't mean we're not growing."

They were grateful that a greater group of players had been given a chance to experience Super Rugby with the introduction of Moana Pasifika.

"It shows the potential and possibilities are there if we keep building and put the right support in place. It's going to be exciting in the years to come."

Captain Solomone Funaki said the benefits of playing Super Rugby gave teams like Tonga and Samoa better preparation for their international play, especially the Rugby World Cup. Often players were taken from club rugby and asked to step up to Test level.

Crusaders v Blues: Saturday 13 May, 7.05pm, Orangetheory Stadium. TICKETS.


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