Christie goes from strength to strength at the Blues

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A combination of improved game time, a more successful Blues team, and exposure to Test rugby with the All Blacks have Scots-born Christie performing at close to his peak, week-in and week-out.

Christie's return in 2020, he played his age group rugby for Counties Manukau and attended St Kentigern's College, after five or six years in various teams has helped his career. Being closer to family and friends and knowing his environs had helped him settle in with the Blues, and he has enjoyed his time with the side.

"It's been a good couple of years so far," he said.

Having been part of the Chiefs (nine games in 2017) and Hurricanes (14 in 2018-19) structures, the chance to play more often at the Blues was a factor in his decision to return, and it paid off.

The type of rugby the Blues have played under coach Leon MacDonald requires quick ball, and that fast ball requires a speedy halfback, something that suits Christie's style.

"That's been a massive work on for me, and I guess one of my strengths as well in trying to get that ball up quickly and be fast to the breakdown. It's a continual work on, and a massive part of every game."

Christie thrives in being part of the team's pulse, a player whose speed can give the side a jolt of positivity when a lift in effort is needed.

"As a halfback and first five-eighths, it is always nice to get front foot ball. It gives you more time on the ball, more space for your forwards, and is better for your team. It does boost your energy when your big boys are rolling their sleeves up and getting you quick ball," he said.

"I guess the way to repay that is to try and get the ball up quick and keep it going. When we are getting quick ball we look really good, so that's a huge part of our game," he said.

Christie said with the Chiefs on Saturday and the Crusaders a week later the Blues feel the next two weeks could be season-defining.

"We feel like we're building pretty well. We had a tough start to the season with a loss to the Hurricanes [32-33]. But, we feel like we've come back well from that, and we're looking to keep that on.

"The Chiefs are right up there at the moment in form, and we like testing ourselves against the best, and we have got to beat teams like that if we want to win a championship.

"It's always exciting playing the best teams and you've got to bring your A game so the boys are looking forward to it," he said.

Three games in eight days last week had been tough, especially for those players coming off Covid, he said.

"The coaches rotated the squad well which was great to see and a lot of younger players got opportunities as a result of that and that can only be good for the squad. But it's good to have that storm week behind us now and we can get back to a bit of normality."

Being part of the All Blacks during their international programme last year was a valuable experience.

Being in an environment with professionals who knew their game and were top-level athletes who knew what they needed to do to perform at that level was an experience. So was being around players like Aaron Smith and others, who had been part of the team for a long time and had so much experience to pass on.

"I learnt a lot about my game, and I got a lot of feedback that pointed me in the right direction of what I needed to do in my game," he said.

Having the chance to observe French halfback, Antoine Dupont during the loss to France in Paris was also special.

"He's a triple threat, he can do everything at the moment. He's right up there among players in the world and was good to watch," he said.

Christie was aware of what German-born loose forward Anton Segner would bring to the Blues when joining his Tasman teammate in the squad this year.

"Seeing him named in the Blues, I was excited for him. I knew what he could bring to the environment, and I knew he would thrive here. Talking to him, he's loving it, and all the boys here are loving having him here.

"He's had a couple of opportunities now, and he's taken them. He's still young and got a lot to prove in the future," he said.

The Blues take on the Chiefs at FMG Stadium Waikato at 7.05pm on Saturday 9 April.


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