Blues ready to step up to next level

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The Brumbies and Waratahs away are all contests with the potential to deny the Blues their leading position on the table.


Following less than satisfactory performances in their games with the Drua and Force in Australia, there is incentive still ahead of the side.


The return of Beauden Barrett at first five-eighths for the Reds game has seen Stephen Perofeta move to fullback, but that was a strength for the Blues, assistant coach Tom Coventry said.


"It's good to have Beauden back and good to have Stephen on the field as well.


"With the modern way five-eighths play, they complement each other.


"You would have seen them swapping positions and being receivers on the short side," he said.


Lock James Tucker will start again after his recent contributions.


"He had a marvellous game last week. His support play and calling of the lineout was outstanding," Coventry said.


"He has been waiting to get some successive performances and he's been on of three locks doing a good job for us."


But the evolution of the side is not only centred around the dazzling dynamics they produce on the field of play. It's about the pleasure of getting the basics done when under pressure.


Captain Dalton Papalii said they feel they have the mix right between x-factor qualities and hard-working dogs who get the job done without it being obvious.


"We're enjoying doing the dirty work, and the dark arts," he said.


"I remember joining this team – we were in some pretty dark days then. To see how far we've come, it's a massive shift, but we're not getting comfortable where we are," he said.


Coventry said there was as much attention on absorbing lessons as there was on maintaining a consistent level of performance.


"We're a critical bunch, so the first thing we do is look at what we could've done better," he said.


"We didn't start well [against the Rebels last week], and we let a couple of tries in towards the end of the match. There was some good stuff; our carries and cleans were really good, and our support play was the best it's been. There was plenty to take out of it so, hopefully, we can transfer that into the Reds."


After so long building toward consistent top-level performance, there is a determination not to be swayed from their course by looking too far ahead.


Applying sports science to the mental side of the game identified the need to be accurate while taking pride in performance whenever you are on the field.


"We've been spending a lot of time talking about that stuff, so it hasn't been that hard to pull us back down again," he said.


The important thing was it wasn't all coach-driven. The side's playing leaders were involved.


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