Tawera Kerr-Barlow's performance for the Chiefs in their victory over the Blues was one of the most pleasing things for me over the weekend.

There was a lot of competition for the No 9 jersey at the Chiefs and Brad Weber's knee injury has handed Kerr-Barlow a big opportunity now the All Black is injury-free.

Close competition for a jersey from a teammate can generate anxiety about selection, so now Kerr-Barlow can string a good campaign together.

This was a reality check for the Blues. There's been a lot of talk about how they can perform this year and I'm one of those who thinks they can have a good season.


I know this was their second game on the road in two weeks, but you want consistency and, while I have occasionally been impressed by the Blues, there's still inconsistency there.

If you looked at the final score of the Rebels game, you'd say "convincing win", but they struggled in the opening 20 minutes.

They are promising a fair bit but aren't delivering yet. I know that sounds harsh after only two weeks, but if they weren't aware of how tough this competition is, they are now. They will have to work hard every week to get into playoff contention.

After watching the South Island derby, I'd have to say the Highlanders are in trouble. They have now dropped two home games, which must concern them. They had built a fortress at Forsyth Barr Stadium - losing only once in 12 games - but have now lost two on the bounce.

It's only week two but already their season's in danger.

The Crusaders will be ecstatic to get out of jail, of course. They weren't in the game but scored three tries in 15 minutes to snatch it.

In this competition, and particularly against New Zealand teams, if you switch off, the game can change, and that's what happened.

The reality is that the Highlanders probably need to win their next three games to stay in touch.

From a Crusaders perspective, what I liked was they had to dig deep.

When they review it, they will see they were outplayed, and that will disappoint them, but successful teams can be outplayed and still win, and I put the Chiefs in this category.

As a former Crusader, I know we won games we shouldn't have.

The Crusaders may have that culture with new coach Scott Robertson. They're never dead.

To turn that game around encouraged me they've got something about them, that they're like Crusaders teams of old, and that sends a message to every other team.