Those calling for Beauden Barrett to move swiftly from fullback to first-five in the wake of the Blues' defeat to the Crusaders in Christchurch are missing the point, and also missing the excellent work being done behind the scenes.
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First, for coach Leon MacDonald to suddenly lose faith in Otere Black, who has developed this year in the No 10 jersey (an impressive feat given he is 25), with only four matches left in the season, would be hugely counter-productive. Certainly it would be sending him mixed messages and that's something MacDonald cannot afford to do with Barrett about to depart for a sabbatical in Japan.
As Barrett won't be around next year, MacDonald has to keep faith in Black, not that it will be too much of an effort. Black has been very good in a backline which so far has been improved immeasurably by Barrett's calm at the back.
Losing to the Crusaders at a place where they last lost in 2016 is not shameful, and neither is being on the receiving end of a Richie Mo'unga masterclass. Mo'unga is clearly the best No 10 in New Zealand at the moment and the way he ran that final quarter comes from a confidence that his instincts are the right ones (and are backed, whatever happens, by coach Scott Robertson). Black can't hope to get near that level without being similarly backed by MacDonald.
There is also the small matter of the Blues effectively not having anyone else to play at fullback since Stephen Perofeta's injury. Matt Duffie, an outside back understood to be leaving the franchise at the end of the season, has the pace and high-ball capability but his kicking game isn't quite good enough.
The Crusaders v Blues match was rightly hyped because these two teams are clearly the best in the competition. What seems to have been forgotten in the aftermath is that the Blues aren't too far off them – maybe that accounted for MacDonald's relatively cheerful demeanor afterwards – and that before this season the Aucklanders were the New Zealand conference's near-perennial cellar-dwellers.
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The last six seasons, the Blues have finished as the worst Kiwi team in the competition. They couldn't buy a derby win. Not this time. MacDonald, in his second year, is finally doing what his predecessors over the past decade couldn't, and that is getting the best out of his players, whether they are All Blacks such as Patrick Tuipulotu or Rieko Ioane, or newcomers such as wing Mark Telea, one of the form outside backs of the competition.
One of the big problems at the Blues was that they didn't work hard enough for each other – an attitude measurable by the players' willingness to get back on defence. MacDonald has sorted that out as well. It appears to be a happy franchise, and given the signings of Barrett and more recently Dan Carter, a more attractive one.
The big question isn't what numbers Black and Barrett will wear for the rest of the season, nor is it where they will be playing next year. It's probably how much gas Carter has left in the tank at 38, and whether he will be a full signing for next season rather than an injury replacement as he is now.
A tight calf has robbed Carter of a chance to make his Blues debut against the Hurricanes this weekend, but, with a full pre-season behind him, could he play fulltime back-up to Black and Perofeta in 2021?