Sometimes we try to trick ourselves by recording rugby matches then watching before we know the score.

It's better than having no access and a valuable compromise when there are conflicting social obligations. But work with the fast forward button removes an edge to anticipation around major games.

A week today if there are no conflicts, my gaze will settle on the start of Super Rugby and the opening form of the five New Zealand sides.


Preview magazines have appeared alongside newspaper and online theories about teams' chances but it's all window-dressing before the action starts.

Take the well-trodden path of Ma'a Nonu. His high quality work in a 103 test career places him at the heart of any discussion about the best All Black second five eighths and there is understandable intrigue about his return to Super Rugby.

However some of the conjecture about Nonu has taken leaps of Bob Beamon proportions. You've seen them: Blues' saviour, All Black return for fourth World Cup.

There has been some frothy optimism in Blues territory about this season but that's all it is and the same should be said about Nonu.

He's played in Europe for the last three seasons, he turns 37 in a few months, this is his third stint at the Blues after several sepia-toned campaigns and in theory he should be vying with Sonny Bill Williams for a start. Perhaps that's the Blues job-sharing rotation plan for this campaign.

If Nonu gets on the track for a run of games then we'll have a better idea where his skills are now compared to his best days.

Quarterback Tom Brady peddled a case for senior citizen's glory this week as he claimed his sixth NFL Super Bowl title with the New England Patriots but his workload is vastly different from a midfield back.

So many things need to go right for the Blues to challenge the field and better their string of modest campaigns.


Listening to one senior Australian commentator run through that nation's chances was a piece of stunning optimism after last year's free-fall. The gist of his forecast was that all four teams would be hard to topple.

Nothing bites like the reality of games which count for something and in this World Cup year they'll all count for a little extra.

After a 2018 campaign when the Sunwolves were the only side below them on the table, the Blues are under the hammer for multiple improvements. They get an immediate check on those credentials when the champion Crusaders arrive for an opening clash at Eden Park.

They've won successive titles and with few changes to their roster have a mortgage on going deep in the series. The Blues have new coach Leon Macdonald with new captains Blake Gibson and Patrick Tuipulotu but all the old questions about their output remain.