Blues embrace traditional principles as they go for the Super Rugby title

As the Blues get ready for a semi-final matchup at Eden Park on Friday against the ACT Brumbies, Cotter’s straightforward approach has been a defining feature of his first season in management.

The biggest and wealthiest franchise in New Zealand has fallen short of expectations after winning their third championship in 2003, losing the following two seasons even though it appeared they would take home the trophy.

The 2022 final ended in a loss to the Canterbury Crusaders, and the semi-finals of the previous year saw a crushing loss to the same opponents.

All Blacks midfielder Ioane thinks the Blues are prepared to win the championship again since the struggling 12-time champion Crusaders aren’t even in the running for the championship this year.

Cotter spent a lot of time coaching and playing at the French club level, and Ioane claimed that his strict approach had come through.

“Vern’s been awesome, he knows what buttons to press at the right times,” he stated.

“We’ve obviously improved over the past few years, but the Blues have needed his old school edge. He brings it.”

“The major reason we’re looking for a deep run in the finals is our forwards. The athletes on our team love to play in a manner similar to Vern’s—straight up and gutsy.”

Due to knee damage sustained during their quarterfinal matchup with the Fijian Drua, Patrick Tuipulotu, the Blues’ in-form captain and lock, is probably out of the lineup.

Seven weeks ago, Tuipulotu was a part of a powerful pack that thrashed the Brumbies 46-7 in Auckland.

Stephen Larkham, the coach of the Brumbies, acknowledged that a shift in strategy would be required if they were to break their ten-year losing streak in Auckland.

In each of the previous three seasons, Australia’s team has been ousted in the semi-finals, including a heartbreaking loss to the Blues in 2022.

“We’ve been in this situation and we know we’ve achieved nothing yet,” Larkham stated.

“We attempted to play there once this year, but it was unsuccessful for us. This will have great significance.”

Veteran Wallabies prop James Slipper is expected to make a comeback from a calf injury, according to Larkham.

The Wellington Hurricanes, who qualified first, will play the Waikato Chiefs on Saturday in the second semi-final

AFP

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