Interesting to hear England coach Eddie Jones say it took the All Blacks eight years to fix their poor decision-making under pressure.

He's on a quest to do the same with England, having taken giant strides in lifting their basic skills since he took over in 2016.

Jones is a smart man and he understands that these days, the differentiator between the best teams is not their ability to pass and catch per se, but their ability to know when to do it and to still be able to do it when the world is watching and the game hangs in the balance.

What sets the All Blacks apart is their ability to consistently get their decision making right. They usually manage to take a sustained number of correct options to score tries and apply pressure.


In stark contrast, the Blues are proving through the sustained application of poor decisions and sloppy execution that it is equally possible for a team to differentiate themselves from the rest.

Doing the right thing at the right time is proving a problem the Blues just can't fix and at this rate could even be deemed unfixable.

That thought appeared to be one Blues coach Tana Umaga was trying to keep at bay on Friday night after watching his side lose their 13th straight game against a fellow New Zealand team. Since coming to the franchise in 2016, he has remained remarkably sanguine, knowing as he did before he took the job that he faced a character-testing time rebuilding a side from scratch.

Umaga has been patient, realistic in his expectations and definitely the best coach the club has had since the halcyon days of Graham Henry.

The Blues have evolved in his tenure: they are more structured, disciplined, potent and connected as a group. They are a better side now than in 2015.

But while they have improved, the realisation is beginning to dawn that they may have hit their ceiling; that it may be an almost impossible task for Umaga to get any more out of this Blues team. He's taken them from bottom to mid-table but might that be as far as the journey goes?

It's early in the season to be so gloomy, and also with both Rieko and Akira Ioane in promising form, it seems ill-advised to condemn the Blues.

But the concern is not that the Blues lack talent or game breakers. They have, unlike previous Blues regimes, managed to select mostly the right group.

The fundamental issue restricting their growth is their seeming chronic inability to learn from mistakes. Their recidivist offending in the art of decision making plagued them last year and has been at the core of their two defeats in 2018.

If it took the All Blacks eight years to fix the same problem, goodness knows when or indeed if the Blues might eradicate it because they don't appear to have made any progress.

The mistakes they made last year are the ones they are still making, and like clockwork, come the middle of the second half, the Blues can be relied on to implode.

A wild pass, a high tackle, a failure to use the space or to run the wrong line ... somehow they will find a way to stuff it up and throw away the game.

They have the talent to win more often but not yet the mental capacity to apply themselves for long enough. Opponents know they just have to stay in touch for 60 minutes and the Blues will hand them the victory.

When Umaga fronted after the game, it was clear his patience had been tested, that his frustration is rising and that he must be wondering what it will take to instil in his players the sort of mentality required to regularly win the toughest games.

"We are disappointed, there is no doubt about it," he said. "That was an opportunity for us. We had enough opportunities to win but we just didn't take them. That is something we need to look at. Guys need to start really putting their hands up. As you saw, there were a lot of Chiefs players who put their hands up.

"We have got to find what it really means to us to play this game as the Blues. That is something we have been working hard on. You saw bits of it last week and bits of it in the first and second half. Again, it is just that ability to put it all together."

There was a weariness to the way Umaga spoke - a near apologetic tone mixed with dismay that he was pinpointing the same old problem as the reason his team had lost.

There may also have been, for the first time in his tenure, a hint of distress that he could see a future where the narrative doesn't change and that despite the progress made and endless hours of hard work, he may have weeks, possibly months, of this repeat failing to endure.

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