Halfback Augustine Pulu, who spoke to the Herald at Eden Park sporting a bloodshot left eye after catching a finger in it during his team's 16-12 defeat by the Highlanders, believes the Blues aren't far from clicking.

Pulu played well, and his optimism is both admired and to be expected, but after the Blues' dreadful performance in losing to an injury-hit Highlanders team, here are five things they must change before their match against the Crusaders in Christchurch on Friday (bearing in mind they have lost their past five matches to the red and blacks).

1. Win their own ball. Their first task is self-explanatory, but their lineout was a shambles against the Highlanders - they lost five lineouts on their own throw. Some of it might be a lack of combinations, as this was hooker James Parsons' comeback from a concussion suffered in September last year. But they can't afford to continue that against a Crusaders second row featuring All Blacks Sam Whitelock and Luke Romano.

2. Hang on to it. The Blues coughed up 24 turnovers at Eden Park. They couldn't build pressure and were therefore easy targets for the Highlanders' defence. The Crusaders base a lot of their attack on the counter - so that's another dangerous trend to continue on.


3. Use their attacking weapons. Rieko Ioane. Rene Ranger. George Moala. Even Matt Duffie. They are all dangerous on the carry and must get their hands on the ball more often. Preferably in space.

4. Direction. Coach Tana Umaga suggested a change might be coming at No 10, with Piers Francis a possibility to replace Ihaia West. But whoever plays first-five must navigate his team around a track where the Blues have struggled for years. And if that means kicking the ball, then kick wisely - deep or contestable.

5. Attack, attack, attack. The Crusaders have won two on the bounce at the death, backing up their thrilling finish against the Highlanders with another against the Reds in Brisbane. They are clearly a very fit team, but there is a sense that their opponents have sat back slightly once building good leads. If the Blues are leading in the final quarter at AMI Stadium, they must keep attacking.