Richard Loe 's Opinion

Richard Loe is a former All Black and current columnist for the New Zealand Herald

Richard Loe: Blues lacking in confidence and it's showing

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Beauden Barrett is all confidence and it shows. Photo / Getty Images
Beauden Barrett is all confidence and it shows. Photo / Getty Images

Direction was the difference in a pivotal game for the Hurricanes and Blues on Friday night.

The Blues appeared to lack a clear strategy whereas the Hurricanes seemed to benefit from having things explained well and drilled into them. That's where it would help having someone like captain Conrad Smith on hand. It doesn't matter who the coach is, if the players aren't performing, you're not going to succeed.

The Hurricanes gave the impression they've started to believe in their own ability. Conversely, when things didn't go right for the Blues, their heads flicked around quickly as if to say: "What are we going to do now?" Despite a number of excellent players, there's limited collective or individual leadership. On their day they should beat the Hurricanes but the hosts took more responsibility.

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A lot of it comes down to confidence, particularly at first-five. Look at Beauden Barrett, he's all confidence.

Compare that to the Blues where you don't know who's going to be in the 10 jersey. It's paper-scissors-rock week to week. That doesn't breed confidence. I'm sorry, but while front-rowers are important, first-five is the link between everyone, whether it's your local club side or international. If he's hopeless or has no confidence, you're struggling. He's your link between forwards and backs, and, more often than not, he's your goalkicker. So, if his general play is rubbish and his goal-kicking isn't much better then everyone looks at him. A confident first-five means a lot to a team.

Speaking of leadership and confidence, the Blues can at least be grateful to have regained the services of Keven Mealamu.

He basically needs to stay there until he throws his boots away. A good chap, a fine player and stacks of experience. The modern day squad - be it the Blues or the All Blacks - generally has three hookers so having a senior man as a mentor who doesn't get in strife on or off field is ideal for younger blokes.

Some younger hookers are coming through with Dane Coles and Rhys Marshall at the head of the pack but, with Andrew Hore's retirement, Mealamu needs to play a key part in the transition to the next generation if possible.

As for the week's other "rugby" issue of Aaron Smith taking snaps of himself, well, we only had one phone on tour in my day, [former All Black manager] John Sturgeon was in charge of it and you had to book a time to use it. It was the size of a rugby boot and wouldn't have been allowed anywhere near the showers or a bathroom. If I was pushed to name players who might've used it, I reckon most of the Aucklanders would've. Names like Fitzy spring to mind. The moral of the story seems to be if you don't want something out there in this techno-savvy age, don't record it.

- Herald on Sunday

Richard Loe

Richard Loe is a former All Black and current columnist for the New Zealand Herald

Richard Wyllie Loe was a renowned All Black forward prop who plied his trade for the New Zealand national team between 1987 and 1995. Loe was well known by fans and team mates alike as an ‘enforcer’ on the pitch, a player who balanced his abilities with the ball with a tough-tackling prowess and a penchant for physicality. During an outstanding career Richard Loe represented his country of birth in no less than three World Cups, assisting the All Blacks to a famous victory in 1987. Along with fellow team mate and captain Sean Fitzpatrick, Loe formed one of the most formidable forward lines ever to lead the All Blacks. Despite his sometimes overly physical dominance on the pitch, Loe is regarded by former team mates as being an exceptional character and professional. Following retirement from rugby Loe became a sport columnist for the New Zealand Herald, a position he still holds today.

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