Patrick McKendry is a rugby writer for the Herald.

Rugby: 'Embarrassed' Blues seek to right wrongs against Force

Tanerau Latimer of the Blues. Photo / Getty Images.
Tanerau Latimer of the Blues. Photo / Getty Images.

The Blues, having described their last outing against the Lions in Johannesburg as "embarrassing", believe they are on track to take the hard edge they have developed in training this week on to the Nib Stadium pitch against the Force in Perth on Saturday.

Fullback Lolagi Visinia and halfback Bryn Hall are the casualties after the 43-5 thrashing at Ellis Park last Sunday, with Melani Nanai wearing the No15 jersey, and Matt Duffie starting on the right wing for only his second start for the Blues, and Billy Guyton wearing the No9 jersey in place of Bryn Hall.

As expected, lock Josh Bekhuis has recovered from his calf injury and will be a welcome addition to a lineout which struggled in the pouring rain. Hoani Matenga moves back to the bench to make way for the return of Bekhuis while Sione Mafileo, who played in the first four games of the season, joins Ofa Tu'ungafasi as reserve prop.

"It was a pretty disappointing outing," assistant coach Glenn Moore said.

"We all know it wasn't up to standard and it's all been about trying to put that right this week.

"Our focus is all about performing... If we can do that then the other parts take care of themselves. We know we have to be better up front this week and we've got to be consistent through the whole game.

"[The attitude] has definitely been talked about and it's been drilled right down into individuals. There was a fair amount of embarrassment about the way we played so it won't take a lot to get a mindset shift and an attitude shift.

"You can definitely see an edge here. We've had some light sessions but there's definitely been an edge, is how I'd describe it.

Unfortunately for the Blues, more rain is forecast for Perth at the weekend, but Moore said he was sure his team would cope much better with the conditions.

His side let in seven tries to one as the hosts gave a masterclass in not only how to play wet-weather rugby, but also how to play with the right attitude. The defeat has all but destroyed the Blues' chances of making the play-offs.

Skipper Parsons, while also admitting he was embarrassed with the performance, said some credit had to be given to the Lions.

"We make it all about ourselves at times but if you look at the way they played and executed what they wanted to achieve... they just played a great game of footy and we couldn't match it on the day."

Blues team to play the Force at Nib Stadium on Saturday:

Melani Nanai, Matt Duffie, George Moala, Piers Francis, Tevita Li, Ihaia West, Billy Guyton, Steven Luatua, Tanerau Latimer, Jerome Kaino, Josh Bekhuis, Patrick Tuipulotu, Charlie Faumuina, James Parsons (c), Sam Prattley.

Reserves: Quentin MacDonald, Ofa Tu'ungafasi, Sione Mafileo, Hoani Matenga, Kara Pryor, Bryn Hall, Matt McGahan, Male Sa'u.

- NZ Herald

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