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Jaguares entitled to feel confident - Umaga

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Lynn McConnell     27 Apr 2018     Getty Images

Coach Tana Umaga said the Jaguares were entitled to look at the game with some confidence because of the way they had been playing.

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"For us, we've just got to execute the plan we've put in place and back ourselves. It is tough confidence-wise when things don't go well early but we've shown once we get our game going we can compete but it is just doing that more often than not," he said.

Adding to the Blues thoughts in preparation is the forecast for bad weather for the game, something that would only heighten the Jaguares' likely use of their lineout drive.

"It obviously suits them but, hey, we can't control the weather but we can just plan for what we know they are going to bring and be ready for it. We've got a plan that we believe will work," he said.

While Blues were returning to availability, the injury situation was still so dire they were only replacing the players they were losing.

Top of the list was getting captain and halfback Augustine Pulu back. It would be a huge boost for the side when he returns via the bench.

Pulu's experience and energy he brought, along with the confidence he gave to others around him would be a help, coach Tana Umaga said.
All Black Rieko Ioane had returned to second five-eighths as a consequence of losing TJ Faiane last week and having no other options. That was reflected with Jordan Hyland getting his third start on the right wing and last week's debutant Tumua Manu getting a start on the left wing. And Matt Duffie will start at fullback.

In getting those players up to speed, and it didn't only apply to the back three, the experienced players out with injury had the task of working with the newcomers to get them ready for Saturday.

Fullbacks Michael Collins and Melani Nanai had been given the task of applying simple structures and work-ons for the players during the week and it was a case of keeping things simple.

"That's all we can do because of the little time we have," he said.

And the work-ons concerned related to core roles, connecting and talking with Duffie about what they were meant to be doing and covering.

The placement of Duffie at fullback had been deemed necessary because he was a player who had experience and also communicated well, rather than using first five-eighths Stephen Perofeta in the role which would have left them too exposed.

Duffie had shown in the time he had last week that he was getting his confidence back.

Manu wasn't entirely unfamiliar with the set-up. He played well for Auckland in the Mitre 10 Cup last year in his four appearances and had been part of the Blues Tens side and he and Jordan Hyland, had elevated themselves up the ladder.

"He doesn't make a lot of errors, he understands the game we want to play and he's done everything that we've asked of him and he shows enough confidence in his own ability that he doesn't get flustered in these moments," he said.