The Blues will cut loose and perform well for the full 80 minutes at some stage this season, but unfortunately for them and their supporters, it is likely to be when they are out of the playoff race.

It's already looking extremely doubtful that they will finish in the top eight of the competition.

With eight matches to go and before this ninth round kicked off, they were in ninth, three points below the eighth-placed Jaguares, and are already talking about having to win every match with a bonus point in order to force themselves into finals contention. Those two losses to the Highlanders have cost them, and there is the ugly prospect of another match against the Chiefs still to come.

Starting with the Brumbies in Canberra tonight, that attempt to capture a free-flowing, attacking approach will probably suit them; they have the players to execute an expansive game plan, and they enjoy playing that way (let's be honest, most do), but if anything has restricted them this season it is pressure and expectation, and that will remain while they still have a mathematical chance of progressing past the round-robin.


Despite the work of coach Tana Umaga and mental skills coach Kylie Wilson, who became increasingly involved with the squad last year, Umaga's first at the Blues, and has now joined the franchise full-time, the Blues have remained what they would describe as "outcome" or "results" focused, rather than "performance" focused.

They don't have the ruthless edge that the old champion Blues teams and it's difficult to see them finding it even next season. Again this season they have struggled against Kiwi opposition (no wins from five matches) and away from home (1-3).

The Brumbies will give Umaga's men respite from the former, but the hostile GIO Stadium will provide a challenge as will the fact this is still a meaningful match for the Blues and they might just beat themselves again.