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Focused Blues ready for Brumbies challenge at Eden Park

Focused Blues ready for Brumbies challenge at Eden Park

All BlacksJune 11, 2024

Taking the emotion out of the occasion and focusing on what has served them well through the DHL Super Rugby Pacific season will be the key for the Blues in Friday's semifinal against the Brumbies at Eden Park.

Both sides have been within touching distance of a championship title in the last two seasons and are determined to take their chance this year.

Centre Rieko Ioane said the Blues had covered the short turnaround they faced and had reset quickly.

"The reviews are done and now we're looking ahead to the Brumbies. We're professionals and one day [less of preparation] shouldn't make too much difference."

Ioane said emotional balance was crucial for the side. Losing captain and lock Patrick Tuipulotu was disappointing because he had been on fire all season and in career-best form.

"Something that's been awesome about our team is we've had late call-ups, we've had injuries midweek and everyone's been able to step up and Vern's [Cotter] has put the confidence and belief in the boys who haven't had too much game time that they're still ready."

Sam Darry's return would help cover Tuipulotu's absence, but he would still be missed.

Ioane said one of Cotter's attributes was his ability to feel the team's pulse, allowing him to press the right buttons at the right time.

"He believes in the athletes we have in this team and he's formed a game plan around those. We love having our big boys carrying hard through the middle and then passing it to our fast wings."

Just some of the #SuperRugbyPacific faithful who were out and about this weekend! 🙌 pic.twitter.com/PXeht1zoc6

— Super Rugby Pacific (@SuperRugby) June 10, 2024

Ioane said he felt good after a frustrating season with injuries and concussions and wanted to repay the coaches' confidence.

Like the Brumbies, they have been used to playoffs rugby over the last few seasons without having to be able to go all the way to claim the title.

Acting captain Dalton Papali'i and the team leaders needed to step up because they had previously reached this level.

"Semifinals and finals aren't won based on emotion; history shows that. 

"Performance is king for us on game day. You can have all the motivating factors and history can be on or off your side. But it doesn't matter because it's an 80-plus minute game and the best on the day is the beauty of it. It's not form or anything leading into it, it's just who's better on that night."

From their performance against the Drua over the weekend, Ioane said they had been a little passive on defence and collisions in the third quarter. Their discipline was better, but it was always of growth for them, especially under playoff conditions.

"We know three points can decide a game so discipline, defence and tidying up some of our tactical stuff are important."

Lineouts coach Paul Tito said the Blues felt the Brumbies went away from the mauling game in their earlier game with the Blues, but they were under no illusions how tough their maul has been in the past. The Blues respect that and have done their homework to counter it.

Your #SuperRugbyPacific Semi Finals are SET 🔒

Who will make the big dance? pic.twitter.com/Q8rOqfZZhU

— Super Rugby Pacific (@SuperRugby) June 8, 2024

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