Blues keen to tap into regional success

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Lynn McConnell     02 Dec 2017     Getty Images

Coach Tana Umaga said there were two ways of looking at the effects of the ITM Cup on the Blues side. While North Harbour and Northland enjoyed successful campaigns, Auckland had struggled to avoid relegation, finishing second last in the Premiership.

What it meant was the North Harbour and Northland members of the Blues had come into training feeling refreshed and positive and upbeat about their season while the Auckland players had come in determined to turn things around.

"That's what we're trying to push. Obviously that was in that environment, somethings went well and somethings didn't go well but when they come in here we're trying to refocus them to the things we're trying to achieve as a club, use some of that motivation and the environments they've just been in and also to push us to where we want to get to," he said.

Umaga maintained his belief that the side was not far away from getting reward and the focus was already on ensuring they win the critical moments in games by understanding what they look like and where they are in the Blues game.

"Physically, we compare with every other team, it's just those moments when the game's in the balance and our decision-making in those moments are what we've got to be working on," he said.

While the All Blacks and Maori All Blacks would be phased back into training during January, four young players from the New Zealand Under-20 training squad, Rob Cobb, Hoskins Sotutu, Harry Plummer and Tanielu Tele'a have been given interim training contracts.

And nine other players have been called in to cover injured players and the international players.

They are: Marcel Renata (Auckland), Ross Wright (Northland), Jacob Pierce (Auckland), Antonio Kirikiri (Manawatu), Lewis Gjaltema (North Harbour), Orbyn Leger (Counties Manukau), Sione Havili (Auckland) and Jordan Hyland (Northland).