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Blues look to changes for inspiration

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Wednesday, March 15, 2017    Lynn McConnell    Getty Images

As the Blues battle to avoid the frustrations that have dogged their franchise for several years coach Tana Umaga said the side were asking themselves hard questions and were trying to put things in place but he wondered if they were trying too hard.

"It's backing ourselves and what we do at training, knowing you've done the work and prepared well enough and all we are adding in the games is a little bit of pressure.

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"We've just got to be able to deal with that and with joining together and making sure we are working hard for each other," he said.

The side couldn't let the external pressures and frustrations get to them and needed to be mindful of what was going to allow them to be the best they could be.

With that in mind changes have been made with Piers Francis named at first five-eighths for the Crusaders game and that came down to performance, Umaga said.

"It's a tough one because we believe Ihaia's [West] has got the skills and it's just making sure that performance is what you put out there on the track. Piers now gets an opportunity to do the same thing and he's going to be in the middle of the cauldron.

"We recognise and realise the pressures that go on 10s [first five-eighths], especially at this club because of what's gone before. What can you do about that? It's just the life we live here in this city and this club."
Umaga was referring to the continual measure that was applied to all first five-eighths in the wake of the mercurial Carlos Spencer's contribution in the earliest years of Super Rugby.

It was vital that the Blues looked to help each other out. In whatever they did they had to go together, Umaga said.

The forwards had acknowledged that they were not getting good quality ball for the backs to use and they needed to adapt to that to have more chance of playing their preferred game.

Concerns with the lineout had resulted in another change at No.8 – the third in three games – with Jerome Kaino playing there this week and Jimmy Tupou, who has played his earlier games at lock, moving to the blindside flank.

"We just want to add some more height. That's nothing against what Murphy [Taramai] did because he worked his butt off which was what we were expecting to get but, again, we are coming up against a very good set piece with the Crusaders so we have got to try and match that.

"Obviously ours isn't going too well so we want to give us more options," he said.

Part of that would also be addressing the skills which let the side down against the Highlanders. They had dropped a lot of ball and you couldn't compete in Super Rugby if you were giving away opportunities and making errors and not taking the opportunities when they came along, he said.