After the Blues, on hearing the final whistle against the Crusaders which condemned them to their third defeat in a row, took the long walk from the AMI Stadium pitch to their funeral-quiet changing room, lock Patrick Tuipulotu stood up and addressed the team.

What he said made the players listen; the coaches too.

"It's all about actions," he told them. "You can say anything you want [before the game], but when that whistle goes it's what we do that matters."

The Blues, who feel they have regrouped well for tomorrow's match against the Bulls at North Harbour Stadium after letting slip a 16-point halftime lead against the Crusaders to lose 33-24 last week, will encounter many more lows, as well as highs this season.


So will Tuipulotu, the 24-year-old Blues and All Blacks lock, who has already experienced a few in his short professional career after having to come back from a faulty positive drugs test at the end of last year.

But it's possible that both the Blues and Tuipulotu will be better for their recent bad experiences.

The Blues because the first half in Christchurch proved they can cut a good team's defence to shreds, if only they can stick to doing what they're good at, and Tuipulotu for not taking anything for granted.

Tuipulotu's positive 'A' drugs test - taken after the All Blacks defeat by Ireland in Chicago last November - was followed, after a fair bit of anguish and the requirement that he train by himself away from his Super Rugby team, by a negative 'B' test.

"It was a big eye-opener and I think I'm better for it," he said. "It can go just like that. I was in a position where I thought I'd never be back to rugby or rugby here at the Blues. That was tough to take.

"When I got the phone call to say I could come back to training I was happy as, and when someone said [coach] Tana [Umaga] announced it and all the boys were cheering ... I don't know, it's just a good feeling."

A few hours after he spoke to the Herald, Tuipulotu sent a social media message which was picked up by several professional players, including Blues and All Blacks teammate Jerome Kaino and Highlanders first-five Lima Sopoaga.

It read: "No matter how hard times may get, never take anything for granted because it could all be taken away in just a moment. The possibility of not playing this year has made me thankful and grateful for each and every opportunity I get to put this jersey on."

It has taken hard work to get this far. Tuipulotu revealed that he felt the eyes of suspicion on him when he went out in public after the "positive" drugs test story broke. "That week it came out, I went to a public gym and I could feel the eyes on me."

So he is grateful for the support from his partner Phoenix Karaka, a Central Pulse netballer who knows what it's like to be a professional athlete. After getting his programme for the week from Blues trainer Jason Price, Tuipulotu often trained with Karaka.

And the remarkable thing is that Tuipulotu, who has played 12 tests since making his debut in 2014, has hardly looked fitter.

Perhaps the increased motivation to relish every opportunity like it's his last is making the difference. Either way, that and his increasing leadership role which saw the normally softly-spoken Tuipulotu address the team last week, is good for the Blues.

"A lot of boys seem to listen to me and take in what I say," he said. "For me it's a good thing - learning and developing into that leadership role."