The long June break is over at last for Blues coach Tana Umaga, who is returning to Wellington and facing his former team for the first time.

In what is likely to be the last away assignment for the Blues this season - given they are unlikely to make the playoffs - he will want to see them start where they left off before their month's hiatus, a performance at Eden Park which almost upset the Crusaders, but instead ended in a 26-21 loss due to a late lapse in focus.

An 80-minute performance would be a welcome one; it's hard to remember the Blues putting in a complete shift since they threatened to tip the competition on its head in round one with a victory over the champion Highlanders at Eden Park.

In Umaga's favour is the fact that loose forward Jerome Kaino and lock Patrick Tuipulotu are relatively rested and, going by their form at training this week, clearly itching to get stuck in against a Hurricanes pack containing fellow All Blacks Dane Coles and Ardie Savea.


Prop Ofa Tu'ungafasi, too, will have plenty of confidence after gaining his first cap in the third test against Wales in Dunedin last week.

The injuries to midfielder George Moala (elbow) and Charlie Faumuina (knee) are blows. The two All Blacks are key members of the Blues and the absence of the hard-hitting Moala will rob them of a threat around the fringes and could allow the red-hot Beauden Barrett more freedom with the ball. As Wales found over the past three weeks, that generally ends badly for opposition teams.

Umaga will also want to see his team continue with the structure they've mostly stuck to this year. After the at-times chaotic performances from the Blues last season, when they won only three matches - and none on the road - under former coach John Kirwan, Umaga's message is clearly getting through.

They already have six wins this year, and, while tonight's Cake Tin game against a team in the running for a playoffs spot will be difficult, he has them heading the right way.

Also looking for improvements is Sanzaar chief executive Andy Marinos, who was in Auckland this week gauging feedback and ideas for a better Super Rugby competition.

Umaga said one change could be made to the June test window, and he wondered if it would be better to continue despite the absence of international players.

"That break in the middle of the season is tough ... possibly [we could keep] playing through," he said. "That could be a way of testing your depth and possibly giving guys game time who don't get a lot of [it]."