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Blues look to make another step up against the Hurricanes

Blues look to make another step up against the Hurricanes

All BlacksMarch 8, 2024

Taking another step up on their achievement graph is the Blues' goal when meeting the Hurricanes in DHL Super Rugby Pacific in Wellington on Saturday.

With two wins from two starts, coach Vern Cotter said there were still questions about the side's consistency and performance.

"The key for us is making sure we step up again and keep training as best we can to prepare for these games. While it's early season, these are tough games.

"There are different profiles in the teams we've played so far [the Fijian Drua and Highlanders], so we have to expect some things which we've tried to work on during this week, and it'll be a good game of footy on Saturday.

"Both teams move the ball, and it's an opportunity for other players to step up, which is important for the team."

There was still plenty of room for improvement from the Blues, and he expected the Hurricanes to have identified potential areas they could exploit.

"They'll have their moments when they're on top of us, and we know you have to accept and embrace that.

"But, when we get an opportunity we want to be able to score points and get them adapting to us."

Colossal games inbound! 🛬

Which round 3 matchup are you looking forward to most?#SuperRugbyPacific pic.twitter.com/StTLBuTGLN

— Super Rugby Pacific (@SuperRugby) March 5, 2024

Feeling opponents attempting to adapt was a step toward getting into them, and then getting on top took skill, execution, and attitude.

Cotter said putting top try-scorer No8 Hoskins Sotutu on the bench was a case of spreading the load among the side.

"I'm aware of the amount of work he's doing and that there's an element of fatigue. He's played five 80-minute games, so the idea was to put him on the bench so the beginning of the week could be easy.

"He's picked it up today [Thursday] and he'll be flying. They've got a strong bench and I think our bench is important. Hoskins will give us another profile coming on and he can play a number of positions. And that will be important in the last 10 minutes."

Akira Ioane will start at No8.

"I want him to carry and put their team under pressure. He's got a big skillset and having him on the field, and off the back of the scrum, we may get a couple of reasonable carries and give us some go-forward. Aki's been training well, but what he has been doing is influencing teammates around him."

The Hurricanes will be without second five-eighths Jordie Barrett while serving his suspension for a dangerous tackle, his case being a reminder to all players of the need for lower tackle heights.

"It's a fine line and we know we have to be disciplined around it. Penalties and yellow cards you can't afford. We spoke about it, and everybody wants to put a decent shot on the opposition, but you have to make sure it's in the right place."

Captain and flanker Dalton Papali'i suffered a similar penalty last year, and it was something they worked on.

"We've got some players on our team that like to stack [tackles], but you have got to live with it. Getting the tackle height right is massive. It's just the way the game is and we have to instill better habits at training. Training instills those habits of getting low, getting under the ball, but footy is footy, it's a contact sport and it's not always perfect."

Your team to head to Welly 🔥 pic.twitter.com/2upSLGj0pc

— The Blues (@BluesRugbyTeam) March 6, 2024

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