The Blues have become synonymous with disappointment, the Super Rugby titles in 1996, 1997 and 2003 long forgotten.

Seven seasons without knockout football and a singular top 10 finish will do that.

Mention the team and the conversation inevitably turns to talk of unfulfilled promise and lost talent.


The Blues have done well to hang on to the incredible Ioane brothers, Rieko and Akira, after what had become a procession of players cutting their rugby teeth in the franchise's traditional feeder regions, only to transition from promising to prolific once they had taken the SH1 South.

Yet, despite the dynamic duo's re-signing last year promising to buck the trend of home-grown talent heading out of Eden Park, accompanied by intermittent success under new head coach Leon MacDonald this season, a familiar affliction remains.

Current fullback Melani Nanai, in the midst of a breakout season, has already agreed to a lucrative deal in Europe following the 2019 campaign while winger Salesi Rayasi and midfielder Tumua Manu have taken offers at other teams in New Zealand and are thriving when given the opportunity.

Amid all the media hype since his return to Eden Park, the Blues persist with 36-year-old Ma'a Nonu in the midfield — despite his failure to build on what was a promising start in his return to the competition.

Tonight the Blues have a chance to beat the injury-crippled Chiefs for the first time since 2011.

They have to, to keep their fading playoff hopes alive and to start clambering out of a hole seven years in the making.