The Blues?!

Discussion in 'Super Rugby' started by Larksea, Feb 12, 2012.

  1. Larksea

    Larksea First XV

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    This surely has to be crunch time for the blues and Pat Lam in particular

    To not get home finals and make the final if not win the thing this year with the Big player names signed to the blues I think should spell the end for pat Lam.

    On Paper they are surely in the top 4 strongest teams and if they had a more experienced 10 I think they would be strongest on paper overall. With almost an all All Black tight 5 and the ability to name a starting 15 with current or former All Blacks in "almost" every position.

    1, Woodcock
    2, Mealamu
    3, Faumuina
    4, Boric
    5, Williams
    6, Kaino
    7, Braid
    8, Peter Saili
    9, Mathewson
    10, Weepu
    11, Ranger
    12, Nonu
    13, Stanley
    14, Wulf
    15, Toeava

    That's 13 Test players!

    Backed up by some quality super players like Tom McCartney & Luke Braid.

    Will be interesting to see how Brad Mika goes? Big questionmark over him, he was a good player a few years ago but what has he done lately? Didn't get any time last year, maybe he's a mate of Lam? Who knows...

    The blues can't keep going on with a roster this strong and not get results, that's why I believe it's do or die time for Lam.

    It may be true that up to the point Toeava pulled out due to his ongoing injury problems the Blues were the best team in the whole comp last year but losing one player shouldn't upset a team as much as it did the blues. Heck the crusaders always seem to be able to truck on and get results when Carter or McCaw are out. Why should the blues fall to bits losing one player like they did with Toeava last year?

    The key for them is 10...

    If one of the guys can put their hand up at 10 then they are set. I personally hope Gareth Anscombe or Michael Hobbs steps up at 10 to allow Weepu to play 9. The talk of Donald being linked with the blues made a lot of sense at the time and Beaver would have enjoyed working behind a tight 5 at the blues that is Massive in terms of size and experience compared to the chiefs outfit.
     
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  3. Darwin

    Darwin AKA Dingo_Darwin

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    Good summary Larksea.

    I agree that, on paper at least, the Blues look almost as good as any team in the tournament. Up front I see prop depth as a bit of an issue - Mailau is a ok backup, but hasn't really established himself at Super rugby level - indeed they often used McCartney at prop instead of him last season. I've got a lot of time for Angus Ta'avao, but he is only a rookie at this level. I'm really looking forward to seeing Liaki Moli get some game-time for the Blues this season, as he was phenomenal at U20 level. He's obviously stuck behind Boric and Williams, but he could make a big impact from the bench. I don't expect Brad Mika to get much gametime this season, but he could surprise me. It will be interesting to see who out of Daniel and Luke Braid get the starting 7 jersey - personally, based on Luke's form last season I think he deserves to start ahead of Daniel, but I'm sure they will both get a chance to push their cases.

    In the backs the key is going to be the halves combination. I think Weepu has a lot of potential at 10, he just lacks experience in the position. If they persist with him he may grow into the position as the season progresses - I just hope they don't expect him to be a world class 10 from day 1. Though personally I would prefer the backline that you have listed, all reports I've heard suggest that Rene Ranger looks set to start at 13 this season. This would mean that there is another wing spot open for either Raikuna, Moala, or Stowers. Not sure which of the three I'd pick at this stage, but all three are very strong attacking players, and could add even more spark to the Blues backline.
     
  4. Larksea

    Larksea First XV

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    yeah I hope to see Liaki Moli get tametime. I was looking for him on a weekly basis last year only to find that he had injury issues.

    I dont expect Mika to threaten Williams and Boric in the peckign order but with it being sucha a long season you have to expect that everyone in the squad will get plenty of gametime.
     
  5. Darwin

    Darwin AKA Dingo_Darwin

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    He had a bad shoulder injury before last years Super Rugby comp, then re-injured the same shoulder in his first start back for Auckland in the NPC. He is apparently fully fit now. He was undoubtedly the most powerful lock with ball in hand I've seem at U20 level - he had a Kaino like ability to be tackled by a couple of players yet still keep moving forward 4-5 metres. It will be interesting to see whether he can bring this into Super rugby, where the players are undoubtedly going to be bigger and stronger....
     
  6. UilamOsa

    UilamOsa Academy Player

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    Moli is a Beast. He could be our Brad Thorn both in ability and service. I must say I'm a bit worried about Pat Lams decision making on the 10 position. I'd prefer Weepu at 10 just to allow Mathewson to start.

    The whole Brett/McAlister thing last year was disappointing.

    Where necessary bring in Anscombe to build up his experience, have Hobbs as a back up (although I'd like him tried at 12).

    I think in order to keep the Media wolves (and public) at bay for this year, Pat needs a S15 title and then look at Anscombe to carry the Franchise forward.

    My understanding is that Mika is now a Loose Forward/Lock option rather than Lock/Looseforward option. I'm hoping they start with Luke Braid against the Crusaders, just for the Todd vs Braid.

    Maybe even look at picking a Braid/Braid/Kaino lineup against one of the Bigger South African teams.
     
  7. Darwin

    Darwin AKA Dingo_Darwin

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    Agree with all of that. I think a Braid/Braid/Kaino trio could be very effective against certain teams - the fact they have given Kaino a lot of time at number 8 in the pre-season suggests to me that this may be an option at times during the season.

    EDIT: Just seen that the Blues have named a Braid/Braid/Kaino loose-trio for their final pre-season match versus Highlanders...
     
    Last edited: Feb 15, 2012
  8. FlukeArtist

    FlukeArtist Bench Player

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    Lam has to deliver.
    Bottom line.

    If not then he he should do the right thing hand in his notice before they even get around to reviewing his tenure

    To be honest- he probably should have got the ass last year.
    The results flattered to deceive and he made noises about aiming for a top 4 finish??!!!
    That is loser talk - he should have been aiming for the title win and nothing else.
     
  9. UilamOsa

    UilamOsa Academy Player

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    Me too! Great Minds...

    They finished 4th? Also, there's what coaches tell the media and what they tell the players.

    I'm willing to have a little belief in Pat, I wasn't on his bandwagon when he was named NPC/ITM coach for Auckland, all the chopping and changing - no apparent gameplan etc. Massive hiding by Waikato.
    Then "nek minit" ITM champions twice over. Ranfurly Shield holders.
     
  10. Sam Owen

    Sam Owen BANNED!!!

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    We got a mean team, theres no doubt about that. No concerns for me at this time. Some good issues raised by Larky.

    As a Samoan its great to see a Samoan coaching the Blues but it really is do or die for Mr Lam. Nothing but good performances and victories will do especially now that hes got a good squad of players, which adds pressure on him because it could stain his record as a coach if this star-studded team doesnt perform to expectation.

    Provided theres no major issues with mass injuries, we should be in the final this year. If we aint, Pat will have to go.
     
  11. FlukeArtist

    FlukeArtist Bench Player

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    UilamOsa,

    Go back and have a look at those games last season. The Blues were lucky to finish where they did. And to be honest, the results last flatered to deceive.
    The Blues simply were not at the calibre of the other top teams, and when the acid went on, the Blues lacked the composure and intelligence required of a top team.

    Lam was in his 3rd years in charge then. This year is his 4th.
    He has had one of the longest coaching tenures at the Blues. Other coaches have been given the ass well before Lam for average results such as these.
    There is also a huge difference between ITM and Super Rugby. Success in one does not usually translate into the other.

    Sorry- but unless Lam wins the title this year, he should get the chop.
    Semi-finalists, or losing finalists will not do. With the wealth of talent at his disposal, and 4 years in charge (plenty of time to establish his "team culture" and methods) there can be no excuses this time.

    If he dosn't win and keeps his job, that will signal to me that this proud Union has now officailly dropped standards and is satisfied with mediocrity.

    Then Auckland will just lose more supporters to the Warriors. That is a cold, hard fact.
     
  12. Larksea

    Larksea First XV

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    I actually thought for the most part the blues were a very good team last year. IMO early in the season they were the best team.

    The problems came when Toeava was injured, McAlister lost motivation when it became pretty clear that he was all but out of all black selection and Brett was found out on defense and exposed.

    Also worth note that they lost kurtis haiu and Brad Mika Early and had to run 4/5/6 string locks at times. When Boric & Williams had downtime.

    So much seemed to be lost with Toeava. At the point he dropped out with injury he dominated the competitions attacking stats. And with him gone the backline lost it's stability with Lam moving players around to find a fit that would work with Toeava gone.

    Hard luck I guess but as I pointed out the crusaders never seem to skip a beat if Dagg/Carter/McCaw are injured.

    the crusaders just always seem to have the depth they need, and I think the blues should be just as good. With the resources the blues have they should have that same depth the crusaders have.

    Chiefs, highlanders and Canes if they have a few key injuries you pretty much write them off. But blues and crusaders should be better IMO, any one or two men going down should not upset the side as much as it did the blues last year.
     
    Last edited: Feb 18, 2012
  13. FlukeArtist

    FlukeArtist Bench Player

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    Sorry Larksea, but go back and review those games the Blues won earlier in the season. they scrapped by teams that a decent team would have put to the sword. A perfect example of what I am talking about is the Blues-Cheetahs game last year. Cheetahs shoudl never have been near the Blues.

    the crusaders just always seem to have the depth they need, and I think the blues should be just as good. With the resources the blues have they should have that same depth the crusaders have.


    Well as I say Larksea - with the wealth of talent at Lam's disposal, there can be NO excuses.
     
  14. Larksea

    Larksea First XV

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    I agree totally, the blues haven't been performing well enough considering the pool of players they have.

    There is a big difference between getting to the top 4 and winning the thing. To win you need to be able to perform even when you have injury disruptions and you need the Killer instinct, attitude and environment that the top teams have and I dont think it can be created or fostered by winning the NPC. But a good coach can spark it - I doubt Lam can with this team but ted can - he's proved that with the blues in the past and I think Lam will be smart and call him in to help every chance he can get this year.

    It would be awesome to see the chiefs do it but I'm realistic. I look at the player rosters and the reality is the Crusaders and blues are the only two teams that have the player resources to realistically go all the way.

    I look at the chiefs and they look like they are just 3 players down on what I would think they need to be a real contender. 1 Prop, 1 lock and a fullback.

    Look over the blues books, current and former all blacks everywhere, no real areas of weakness other than maybe backup props and the fact that they need a first five to step up. The simple fact that their first choice tight 5 should be one of if not the strongest in the competition and they have a backline full of some of the most deadly attacking players in world rugby

    For the blues winning really has to be the only option and if they dont Lam should go.

    I honestly think Blues coach is the 2nd most important coaching job in NZ behind the all blacks and should come with just as much pressure on the results.
     
  15. FlukeArtist

    FlukeArtist Bench Player

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    Well said Larksea.

    Chiefs have a very exciting backline, and with Tim Nanai-Williams I don't think they are wanting for a fullback.
    IMO he was better than Muliaina last year.
    The Chiefs lack a decent tight five in general. Not just a prop and a lock.
    But if the tight 5 can do the basics right and get ball to the backline... watch out.
     
  16. Larksea

    Larksea First XV

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    yeah people will have different opinions, chiefs tight 5 does lack but I dont think it needs too much. Craig Clark is good enough but not top class, I think if you added one genuine top class Lock the 2nd row would be better off as a whole because the rest of the locks would have someone to feed off and learn. And in the props the chiefs have talent and potential but in my opinion need a top level experienced prop for the same reason.

    as far as fullback goes last years super15 is hardly a good example of mills being at his best infact because mills had a tough year and the guys who filled in for him did a pretty bad job I think was a big factor in their poor season.

    IMO the chiefs 15 options lack size, height and solid proven defense. With Mills in form the chiefs had one of the best players in the world under the high ball and a tackler they could rely on - I dont see that in Robinson/Nanai yet.

    I look at the chiefs squad

    take out Taumalolo and add in someone like John Afoa, Jamie Macintosh or Ben Franks
    Take out one of the young locks and add someone the class of Boric or Ali Williams
    take out Robbie Robinson and add someone like Ben Smith, Toeava heck I'd even take a Tom Marshall who's 2nd string at the crusaders.
     
  17. FlukeArtist

    FlukeArtist Bench Player

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    That Tom Marshall is such an underrated player
     
  18. Larksea

    Larksea First XV

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    Sitting bottom of the NZ table with Kaino and now Toeava both gone for the season what now for the blues and Pat Lam?
     
  19. TRF_nickdnz

    TRF_nickdnz Super Moderator

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    I think this should probably be Pat's last season. He's certainly not achieved much since he came on, especially considering his squad. I think maybe he's not quite good enough to coach at Super Rugby and thus should become assistant coach to the All Blacks.
     
  20. TRF Mr Fish

    TRF Mr Fish Your Piscine Overlord

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    Who would you promote?
     
  21. Muzzy

    Muzzy Bench Player

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    I remember saying when they announced the team last year, that this was gonna be a weak Blues team, we really don't need both Mathewson and Weepu, and we really don't need Weepu as a first five instead of a halfback, I prefer Weepu as halfback to Mathewson though. And they made a mistake leaving out Luamanu, there were other things but I can't remember what they were now
     
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