Wynne Gray 's Opinion

Wynne Gray is a Herald columnist

Wynne Gray: Blues still eerily reminiscent of Titanic

20 comments
CHANGE: Michael Hobbs will be at first five eighths for tonight's game. Photo / Getty Images
CHANGE: Michael Hobbs will be at first five eighths for tonight's game. Photo / Getty Images

Changes came but the suspicion lingers that the Blues were rearranging the deckchairs on the Titanic.

They shuffled a few players for tonight's return game with the Hurricanes but there is a terminal smell about their work.

The Blues plunge has been as dramatic, though not as disastrous, as the descent of the superliner a hundred years ago in the North Atlantic.

However, there will be widespread fallout across the Blues and half the squad will be missing from next year's roster because of overseas contracts, attrition and inadequacy.

When Fred Allen was farewelled by about 700 at his beloved Eden Park midweek, there was an accompanying throng of rugby bewilderment as the audience adjourned to look down on a ground where the Blues have been so poor this season.

The group who run on to the Cake Tin tonight have a chance at atonement after the horrors of the defeat to the Reds and the shock of their one-point defeat against the Canes in round five.

Half the Blues starting XV from that match are gone, injured or dropped because of poor work.

Others like All Blacks Piri Weepu and Ali Williams, who had modest production last week, have been retained with coach Pat Lam constrained by his lack of alternatives.

The TAB has backed the Canes as favourites to do the double. If a composite side was picked today from individuals' work this season there would be few Blues players.

Ma'a Nonu would fit into midfield and Charlie Faumuina would outgun Jeffrey Toomaga-Allen in the frontrow. Chris Lowrey and Tom McCartney square off level against their opposites but the rest of the side would be full of Hurricanes.

There has been a lift in much of the Hurricanes' production on both individual and collective levels. The one part which is still a bit ropey is their scrum but the Blues are still without injured test frontrowers Tony Woodcock and Keven Mealamu.

There was no desperation about his latest selection, coach Lam insisted.

It was time for a changeup with Michael Hobbs coming into first five eighths after Gareth Anscombe had offered his credentials in six games.

Hobbs began the Blues campaign in that role with two games sandwiched between Alby Mathewson and Benson Stanley. Tonight he forms a Wellington troika with Piri Weepu and Ma'a Nonu on either side.

Where will the Blues turn to tonight to give them a chance? Who knows, they have been so erratic.

But attention to detail and some basic foundation rugby must be instructions from Lam and adhered to by his team, if they are to overturn their hideous run of results.

- NZ Herald

Wynne Gray

Wynne Gray is a Herald columnist

NZ Herald senior rugby writer Wynne Gray has been covering the All Blacks for almost 25 years and has attended more than 230 All Blacks tests live for the Herald.

Read more by Wynne Gray

Have your say

We aim to have healthy debate. But we won't publish comments that abuse others. View commenting guidelines.

1200 characters left

Sort by
  • Oldest
Stats provided by

© Copyright 2014, APN New Zealand Limited

Assembled by: (static) on production bpcf05 at 27 Nov 2014 12:18:06 Processing Time: 455ms