Unfinished Business: Blues aim to break Christchurch curse

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Winning in Christchurch has never been easy for them. They have one win in 13 games at the ground.

Blues coach Vern Cotter said history was significant in rugby, and players needed to remember things from their past.

Those players involved in the Blues' heavy loss to the Crusaders in their semifinal in Christchurch last year would not have forgotten the experience.

While concentrating on what they needed to do on Saturday, they would need to deny the Crusaders the access they gave them last year.

At the same time, he said, controlling how much emotion was involved in preparation was essential because you also want to improve your game.

"The boys are proud to play in the Blues' jersey, and they'll bring that to our way of playing and expressing ourselves.

"They're [the Crusaders] a good team, and they'll have their moments. Hopefully, we'll have a few more than them."

Cotter said the Crusaders had been unlucky. They are a good team, and they showed that in the first half of their game against the Blues in Auckland earlier in the competition.

"They're very much in the battle. They've got class players; they've reinforced their scrums and are looking strong. A few combinations are starting to come off, and you can see more ambition in how they're trying to play.

"And their backs are against the well. Any team that has its back to the wall, it doesn't matter where they are, in a game of rugby in 80 minutes, anything can happen."

The Blues' preparation had to be correct. There would be times when they would have to adapt to how the Crusaders played, and he was hopeful the Blues could also make the Crusaders adapt.

Cotter said he understood what Crusaders coach Rob Penney was going through.

"Everybody knows it's bloody tough when you're losing, and you lose by small margins, and the ball doesn't bounce for you."

Cotter was confident Stephen Perofeta, who starts at fullback, is over the irritation that caused his intended return off the bench last week.

"He's got good vision [at fullback], and he's got a great kicking game, he can counterattack. He's got others in the back three, Mark Tele'a, Caleb Clarke, and AJ Lam, who can help with his communications and put them into space.

"Harry's [Plummer] playing well at first five-eighths, so that nine-10 combo has been going quite well."

Cotter said the Crusaders' strength has always been the way their leaders step up at the important end of the season, and he feels the Blues are shifting towards achieving that responsibility.

"We saw it last week in the second half against the Highlanders, and it'll be important against the Crusaders, and then against the Chiefs. Then you go into knockout games where you've got to get everything right." 


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