'Let the rugby do the talking': Blues embrace playoff mentality
2022 was fun for the Blues; there was a historic winning streak, the first win in Christchurch since 2004, the first semi-final in 11 years, and the first final since 2003. 2023 on the other hand, has been a little rocky.
“Turbulence”, as Beauden Barrett calls it, has marred the Blues’ season. Injuries and suspensions have disrupted continuity while star players have announced their departure and their coach has been poached.
On the field, the side has struggled to resemble the dominant form of the previous season. They’ve had some resounding wins but failed to execute in tight games, despite some unstoppable form from Mark Telea.
Barrett, as can be expected from a veteran leader, is focussing on the positives, and understands the value of adversity when building a team’s championship character.
“It’s been a turbulent season,” he told media ahead of the Blues’ quarter-final against the Waratahs. ”We’ve felt frustrated at times. It’s certainly a different road to the playoffs than last season. We’ve had more adversity than this time last year. It’s probably a good thing. We learnt some lessons in the final, so we should be in a better spot.
“We’ve had so many disruptions. Every team has their setbacks and challenges, and ours have been more turbulent than last season. Last season seemed pretty straightforward with one hiccup in the final; this time we’ve learnt a few lessons along the way and we’re in a better spot for it.”
The Auckland side will be without both their first-choice locking duo and left winger as the Waratahs visit for the first round of the knockout stages. One man who is ready and raring to go is All Blacks hopeful Mark Telea.
“I encourage him to be busy, to pop up,” Barrett said of the tournament’s joint leading try scorer. “All the great wingers go looking for the ball and maximise opportunities by getting off their wing and being a late option. He’s done it all season. He’s unique in that he’s super slippery and very strong.”
The Blues’ leadership is imploring the side to keep things simple as they prepare for what could be another deep playoff run. They face a Waratahs side coming off the back of a loss to Moana Pasifika but who also strung some impressive performances together in the latter half of the season. Both sides look to be timing their run.
“It’s doing the basic things well,” noted Barrett of the recipe required. “It’s nothing we don’t have in our repertoire. It’s finding cohesion. There’s a sense of under-performing this season and hopefully, we’re leaving it to the right end of the season. This time of the year, you turn up and let the rugby do the talking.”
Join free and tell us what you really think!Join Free