Tuipulotu wants his Blues to forge their own path

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Assistant coach Tom Coventry said Tuipulotu (pictured) had been pushing the case for working hard and building their own game and not worrying about the history that has been a handicap for the side in recent seasons.


"We don't talk too much about the history, it gets brought up a lot but we can't really affect that too much other than to play well, prepare well and put the performances on the field. That's our main job," he said.


The Blues' preparation plans were thrown a little awry when their flight out of Johannesburg was delayed by nearly five hours, resulting in their arrival back in Auckland at 4 am, several hours later than scheduled.


But Coventry felt it was one of those things and the side seemed to have recovered well.


"We've freshened up the squad where we've been able to, and the challenge will be to get over the jet-lag and be ready for the game at the weekend," he said.


The pressure on players like No 8 Hoskins Sotutu and flanker Dalton Papalii had resulted in changes for this week with Akira Ioane and Blake Gibson getting starts in the respective positions.


"We need to make sure we're giving guys opportunities to play and create some competition within our group. Aki [Ioane] has been working really hard, he had some pretty clear messages around what he needed to be doing when we were away and he gets the opportunity this weekend.


"Akira is a really popular member of our team, we want him to do well, and it's good to have him in good form. The trainers back home have been working him pretty hard. Considering he played every game last year and was a big part of 2019, it's good to have him back on the field and the boys are looking forward to it.


"I'd like to see him active with the ball in his hands, we want him running into space, getting the ball off the scrum nicely, making his tackles and showing the progress he has made in some of the dark areas that he's been criticised for.


"We'd all like to see him rampaging around with the ball in his hands and being an obvious threat," Coventry said.


Meanwhile, the coaches were happy with brother Rieko Ioane's return last weekend against the Stormers.


"It was good having Rieko back, he brought some confidence back into the team. He's really keen to play in the midfield at centre and makes a good combination with TJ [Faiane]. I thought he was good, he was exciting. It's a tough position to play 13 [centre], it's probably the hardest defensive role to play in a rugby team and I think he'd be pretty happy with his first outing for a while in that jersey and we're looking for even bigger and better things from him over the next couple of weeks."


The decision to move Stephen Perofeta to fullback and play Otere Black at first five-eighths while having Harry Plummer coming off the bench had been working well for the side.



"Otere is in good form and Stephen looks like he's been playing fullback all his career. And we've got Plums off the bench too. It's been a good combination so far for us and we'll probably persevere with it for a little bit longer," he said.


"The good thing is we've got a few boys back here who have been working really hard and are looking for opportunities.


"We've spoken about using our squad better than we possibly did last season, so Aki comes into the mix, Blake gets an opportunity to start after not having much time away with us, and those guys will add some value as well as [lock] Gerard Cowley-Tuioti who comes off the bench and has been training pretty hard with the crew back here," Coventry said.


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