The Blues, hit by the departures of various experienced players, could do worse next year than follow the example of Tasman, originally a team full of over-achievers who couldn't quite clear the final hurdle to a championship and finally did it this year when beating Wellington to win the Mitre 10 Cup.
The links between the two teams are stronger than many may think. Blues coach Leon MacDonald is a former Mako coach and knows the value of hard work and the development of a game plan that suits his players' skills and characteristics.
The Mako, who endured a difficult beginning after the merger of the Nelson Bays and Marlborough unions, have also built a strong team unity perhaps on a par or even stronger than their Crusaders neighbours Canterbury. This is something MacDonald will be trying to emulate at the Blues.
And Tasman halfback Finlay Christie is on his way to the Blues as a replacement for Augustine Pulu, an addition to MacDonald's squad that may be very significant in terms of how MacDonald wants his side to play.
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It's clear that MacDonald wants to play an up-tempo game, like the Mako have traditionally done, and Christie's addition will boost that because speed at halfback has been an issue for the Blues for many years.
This year's Mako side had a spine of experienced, quality players, including Christie, Jordan Taufua, Quentin Strange, Liam Squire, Mitch Hunt and David Havili. And while, following the departures of men such as Scott Scrafton, Sonny Bill Williams, Ma'a Nonu and Caleb Clarke (for a one-year sevens sabbatical), the Blues don't have that luxury. MacDonald played a big part in the development of those Tasman players and effectively has to start that building process again at the Blues, albeit in his second year in the job.
Asked this week about whether he might seek to follow Tasman's example from 2019, MacDonald laughed and said the Mako got the winning part right at least. But, drilling down further, in order to be competitive (at least before Beauden Barrett arrives) the Blues will have to play above themselves - to truly be greater than the sum of their parts. This year the Blues finished 13th and there will be an expectation from newly appointed chief executive Andrew Hore that they get a lot closer to the playoffs than that next season.
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"Dead right and I think that's the goal of any coach of any team – to have a team of players who over-achieve and fulfill their potential," MacDonald said.
Asked about Christie, the former Hurricanes halfback who played a big role in the Mako's run to the title, MacDonald said: "Fin's a guy who plays at a high pace and is fit. He gets to the breakdown quickly and doesn't make many mistakes. I thought his box kicking in particular this year was probably the best in the competition. Tasman got a lot of turnovers by contesting and having broken play off it. He'll bring something a little different to our other two options and he's a good young pro as well."
What's not up for dispute is the need to get into the work quickly. The season for the Blues begins with a match against the Chiefs at Eden Park on January 31. Before that there are two pre-season games. The new season will be upon us before we know it.
"In terms of pre-season, it's a real balancing act," MacDonald said. "I think the onus is on the guys to look after themselves in November perhaps a bit better than they have in the past when they had a bit more time.
"From our point of view, with the same coaching group, we have a bit of continuity. We're not starting from scratch like we did last year, so we're able to re-build on that. Really, it's all go. There's only a short gap before we start playing games so it's all going to happen pretty quickly."