Blues Super Rugby head coach Tana Umaga says he is confident they can fix the team’s mistakes in time for their Super Rugby opening match against the Highlanders in Dunedin.
The Blues were beaten 26-14 by the Hurricanes in their pre-season warm up match and also picked up some injuries in the match but Umaga was mostly happy with their performance.
“The willingness and want was there, and in a short turnaround, coming back from Brisbane, there were a few mistakes. We think we can rectify those heading into the first game.
“There were some good lessons in there for us. We’ve always said these things are just the precursor to the main games, and as long as you get the learnings out of them and keep moving forward we’ve got to be happy.
“The biggest learning for us is the integration of our All Blacks back in, making sure they get enough game-time, and reading how they’re coming back and what condition they’re in.
“Our boys come back in pretty good nick, but running is not the same as getting smacked, and then getting down and up,” Umaga told Stuff.
As is normal for the start of the season there was plenty of scratchiness in the match but that is to be expected and Umaga was wing Rieko Ioane score a long-range try just before halftime although he did have some concerns his big wing’s game-changing abilities.
“It’s great to have that, but you don’t want to rely on it all the time. We’re fortunate to have him but we’ve got to make sure we’re not banking on that every weekend.”
Umaga had to admit that his new No 10 Bryn Gatland, Sonny Bill Williams and the other backs have a lot of work to do ahead of their match against the Highlanders.
“Geez, they defended well. We had a bit of structure there in terms of getting out of our half , but there are still things to work on.”
“There was miscommunication a couple of times between Bryn and Sonny, and the same at the back round Duff (Matt Duffie) and Melani [Nanai].”
The Blues lost openside flanker Dalton Papali’i for six weeks with a hand fracture in the loss to the Hurricanes in Warkworth.