Pressure on Blues five-eighths to take their chances


Stephen Perofeta, Otere Black and Harry Plummer were players who were capable of playing first five-eighths and fullback and assistant Blues coach Tom Coventry was confident variations involving those players would be seen in the interim.


Barrett had called at the Blues and would have a couple of club games, or development side games, before taking his place in the squad.


"He's got it all planned out. He's away doing some promotional work at the moment but he's across what we're all about," Coventry said.


It was a tough situation but the better those players performed with the opportunities they had during the first half of the season the better it would be for the side all round.


"You've got a world-class player coming in to put the heat on them and it is up to them to make sure they make it hard on us to move them across when he comes back," he said.


Coventry said the emphasis had gone on the group of players who were available needing to start the season well.


"It will be up to Beauden to come in and learn quickly. He's obviously a great player but the boys who are here are obviously going to have to get us going. It's not until round six or seven that he comes back into our team," he said.


The Blues returned to work on January 3, and while the pre-season had been shorter than in the past, Coventry said it had been really intense.


Having had five weeks in training they were itching to play in Friday's warm-up game against the Chiefs in Waihi Beach.


"You need a guide of where you are at. We do a lot of training where we are knocking each other around so it will be good to have some opposition who are going to give us a bit of a guide," he said.


Signs were that fitness levels in the squad were better than last year and reflected the work that had gone in.


Among those who have benefited from the pre-season is prop Karl Tuinukuafe who had a rough season with illness last year. He had missed the pre-season last year but had been involved throughout this time and was looking good.


Coventry said he was probably a little ahead of where he was last year.


"He's scrummaging well, he's getting around the field well and once again, like a lot of the boys in the team, his fitness numbers are good and we're happy with where he's at at the moment," he said.


The indifferent summer to date had helped ensure the heat had not been an issue in preparation so far and had allowed the training to be a little more intense.


But Monday's heat had provided a template of what to expect at Waihi on Friday, Coventry said.


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