BLUES RE­CRUIT­MENT BAL­ANCE

NZ Rugby World - - Super Rugby 2018 -

Would have to be con­sid­ered a neg­a­tive re­turn for the Blues sim­ply be­cause they have lost Char­lie Fau­muina and Steven Lu­atua – two sea­soned, in­ter­na­tional cam­paign­ers who de­liv­ered a huge amount both on and off the field.

The most sig­nif­i­cant sign­ing they made, Otere Black, is un­likely to play due to ma­jor knee surgery so they will have to wait to see whether he’s the an­swer at No 10.

On the plus side, they were able to snare Caleb Clarke, one of the stars of the New Zealand Un­der 20 cam­paign and a young man who could end up hav­ing the same sort of im­pact as Rieko Ioane.

WHAT CAN WE EX­PECT TAC­TI­CALLY?

The wider the Blues play, the more teams they will fancy they can beat. They un­der­stand they can’t be pre­dictable in gen­er­at­ing width and that they need to fix de­fences and cre­ate the space to ex­ploit.

If they can do it well and use the likes of Rieko Ioane, Ge­orge Moala, Clarke and Akira Ioane in the out­side chan­nels, then they will be a hand­ful.

GUT FEEL – RISERS OR FALL­ERS?

Dif­fi­cult ques­tion to an­swer as the loss of Fau­muina and Lu­atua is sig­nif­i­cant. But if Jerome Kaino can fire up, Akira Ioane lift his work rate and Stephen Pero­feta set­tle into his work, then the Blues could be a bet­ter side – just – than they were last year.

WHERE WILL THEY FIN­ISH?

They will be in the play­off hunt for sure. The chal­lenge for them is to beat New Zealand sides. If they want to be in the top eight, then they are go­ing to have to win their home der­bies and then hope they can pinch a cou­ple of vic­to­ries on the road.

Will be in the hunt late into the piece but will come up one win short of mak­ing the play­offs.

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