While Beauden Barrett's 204 metres made, an astonishing number for a No 10, for the Hurricanes against the Blues is the major talking point out of last weekend's Super Rugby stats, we should look at the Blues' forwards.

For their pack came under the kosh against the Hurricanes and responded, probably outdoing the visitors at the breakdown and in the set-piece, certainly in the lineouts.

Mark Abbott and Callum Gibbins rolled their sleeves up for the Hurricanes and powered through their work, but the likes of Blake Gibson, Gerard Cowley-Tuioti, Steven Luatua and Jerome Kaino stood tall for the home side. They were just unlucky to have the world's best player on the opposition.

Rugby Herald Stats Centre


Gibson, who had his most effective outing this season after battling injury, made two turnovers. He is fit to rank as the nation's No 4 openside flanker and is starting to deliver on the promise, stymied by injury, he showed coming out of St Kentigern College. It might have been thought that he would be swamped at the collisions by the Hurricanes' two-pronged fetcher attack in Gibbins and Ardie Savea, but the latter was unusually quiet. Only five players in the competition have made more tackles than Gibson's 71 this season.

The Blues' lineout, led by Cowley-Tuioti with six takes, who developed his trade under Steve Jackson at North Harbour in 2015-16, had the better of the Hurricanes, who missed Michael Fatialofa when he departed with injury. Scott Scrafton did not show out in the stats, but his try and lineout ability were important last Saturday, especially as Patrick Tuipulotu was a late scratching from the bench.

Luatua may just rank as the nation's second best eligible No 8, with apologies to Luke Whitelock of the Highlanders. He gave two offloads, which of which led to Melani Nanai's try. The All Black selectors will surely not be short-sighted enough not to look at him just because he is off to Bristol. On that basis, they would also exclude Aaron Cruden, Charlie Faumuina and Tawera Kerr-Barlow from Lions' contention. Luatua is a good lineout option and could be gold in a squad situation with his ability to play eight, six and lock.

Kaino made 12 carries, as many as Rieko Ioane, and looks to be coming into his game at the right time. But the Blues need their front-row of Pauliasi Manu, James Parsons and Charlie Faumuina to assert themselves more. In fact, while attention often shifts to the travails of whomever wears the No 10 jersey, the reality is that this Blues pack has six All Blacks, including benchman Ofa Tu'ungafasi, and should be more dominant against New Zealand opposition.