Follow live updates as the Blues battle with the Sharks in South Africa.

When Leon MacDonald studied the early part of the Blues' season – a tough home fixture against the Crusaders and then a trip to South Africa and Argentina to play the Sharks and Jaguares – he decided his side needed to win two out of the three games at least.

After losing to the defending champions, there is no room for a slip-up now, starting at Durban's Kings Park on Sunday morning. MacDonald was right to say the competition isn't won or lost in round one but the Blues need competition points and playing overseas teams, even far away from home, rather than derby matches is the easiest way to get them.

There has been a feeling of cautious optimism among supporters of the under-performing franchise following their improved, albeit, losing effort at Eden Park, but that will disappear faster than a cheeseburger at the White House should MacDonald's side lose again because all the side have to show from round one is one competition point and an overly familiar feeling of disappointment.


Is winning a habit? Many coaches believe so and many believe the reverse is also true – that losing begets losing. Last year the Blues won only four games in total and none against a New Zealand team. A case can easily be made that they have forgotten how to win tight matches.

It takes discipline and clarity of thought to consistently do it. The Crusaders have now won 16 in a row and while they were fortunate that Harry Plummer's late penalty for the Blues sailed just wide in the final minutes, replacement halfback's Augustine Pulu's decision to dart down a non-existent channel near the sideline at the end of the match summed up the team's decision making over the past five years or so.