Blues wary of Rebels in Melbourne

GettyImages 1314656846

Before the Blues flew out to Australia, assistant coach Tana Umaga said the new personnel would be keen to put their stamp on the side as soon as possible.


"We know, in terms of when there is a shift in management people are coming out and trying to prove a point. They've been hit with a lot of injuries, guys are getting opportunities, they're at home, and they want to start this competition on the best foot," he said.


"We've got to make sure we tick all the boxes we are looking at and go over there with a mindset that we want to take the learnings from the Aotearoa, and also the good stuff, and make sure that we put it on the park."


Assessing how the Rebels would play the game was uncertain due to their management change.


"We've been trying to anticipate all kinds of things they will throw at us, but we don't know. The style that they had in the previous comp will be different. I think what they will bring is intensity. They're at home, and they have a point to prove, just like us.


"Even though we are conscious of what they are doing, we have to be very conscious of what we are doing as well," he said.


Captain Tom Robinson said he couldn't believe the odds touted by bookies who had all the New Zealand teams dominant in the first round.


"All the footage we have seen of the Aussie teams, they are good, and from past experience, physically, I reckon they are more physical than playing the South Africans, so we are expecting the intensity to be even higher than the New Zealand comp. That's our mindset that we're bringing anyway," he said.



Robinson said the Blues had plenty to play for after disappointing in Super Rugby Aotearoa.


"We've had some pretty honest conversations this week, and we feel like we've set that foundation for us to achieve, to win this competition.


"We weren't happy with how we went in the Aotearoa comp, I think we were guilty of thinking we would roll on, on the back of what happened last year. We've had those pretty tough conversations with ourselves and we're here to do the business," he said.


"And we'll expect that they'll [the Rebels] will have exactly the same mindset, so we're taking them very seriously."


AJ Lam has been named on the left-wing after Caleb Clarke's decision to concentrate on the Olympic Games Sevens.


Umaga said Lam had made 'huge strides' during the season, and he wanted him to keep on playing the way he had been.


"He's pretty much taken every opportunity that has been given to him. And he's earned the right because there's been a lot of heat on those wing spots, so he does get in on the back of some good performances for us. What we expect is to just do what he's been doing," he said.


"He's been a sponge at training, he's executing what we've been asking him to execute and that's all you can ask of a player."


Zarn Sullivan's choice at fullback was a reward for his last outing with the side, while they wanted Stephen Perofeta to have more play at first five-eighths, and he has returned to club rugby to have that experience so he can have a crack at the position for the Blues again.


"There's competition for positions and we want to make sure that when he does get his chance he is up to speed," he said.



View all