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Super 14 will be tougher than expected – Nucifora

Blues coach David Nucifora is adamant squad depth and player rotation will prove critical in the Super 14 competition this year.

Nucifora said the addition of the Western Force and the Central Cheetahs to the competition would provide an added drain on coaches and players.

“It’s going to be challenging for everyone. I think a few people may underestimate the effect of playing two extra matches will have on teams,’ he said.

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“The good thing about the Super 12 competition is that it was short and intense, and intensity breeds quality. “Having two extra matches means there will be more of a squad focus, where depth will be important, and perhaps some player rotation will need to be done.”

Nucifora says the monitoring of players’ wellbeing before and after matches will become even more important.

“A lot more work will need to be done in the strength and conditioning and recovery side of things,” he said.

“Physically this competition gets harder and harder every year, and the teams that have selected their squad well and nurtured their depth will do well.”

Nucifora says he feels the five New Zealand sides would again provide the benchmark for the Australians and South Africans to match this year.

“I was looking at the squads of the other Kiwi sides the other day and gee they’re powerful,” he said. “The Waratahs should also improve on last year. It’s a pretty daunting competition actually.”

He added the Blues were hell-bent on improving on their seventh placing from last year. “We were disappointed with last year, but in saying that we had a lot of close losses and we got hit hard by injuries and suspension,” he said.

Nucifora admitted his stint as assistant coach last year was ideal preparation before taking up the head coaching role.

“I’ve been able to sit back and learn the way they go about their business, and develop ways of trying to better it without changing it,” he said. “It’s a fairly different set-up to the Brumbies and I’ve taken a lot on board in regards to my coaching.

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