Could this be the beginning of a bright new era for long-suffering Blues fans?

The Blues having a sniff of a Super Rugby trophy in the home stretch of the competition should be all the proof we need that 2020 has indeed been an extraordinary year.

The last time the long-suffering franchise qualified for a Super Rugby post-season was 2011, when they finished fourth on the ladder and were eliminated in the semifinals by the Reds.

They last won the title in 2003.

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But with just two games left in the Super Rugby Aotearoa version, it is still very possible to see the Aucklanders hoist the trophy.

The Crusaders' loss last weekend to the Hurricanes, a defeat snapping an incredible 36-game streak in Christchurch, has thrown the table wide open. The Blues, Crusaders and Hurricanes all sit on four wins, though the Crusaders have a game in hand on the other two and remain the favourites to win a fourth successive title.

While the Blues' final match of the tournament — against the Crusaders at Eden Park on August 16 — could well determine this season's champion, just to still be in the running this late in the piece is a welcome change for fans.

A lot of what Leon MacDonald's side has achieved has been down to the performance of their forward pack, with the emergence of Hoskins Sotutu, the return to form of Akira Ioane and the continuous high-level play of Ofa Tu'ungafasi, Patrick Tuipulotu and Dalton Papalii.

Add in a dynamic backline, featuring an oddly mercurial Beauden Barrett, and the Blues are an outfit to be feared for the first time in many seasons.

Could this be the beginning of a bright new era for long-suffering Blues fans? Despite losing Beauden Barrett to a sabbatical in Japan and potentially seeing star wing Caleb Clarke return to the New Zealand Sevens team for the Olympic Games, there's no reason the Blues can't continue their rise.