Hunt for consistency driving the Blues

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Thursday, March 15, 2018    Lynn McConnell    Getty Images

Coach Tana Umaga said thinking about the fact they hadn't achieved consecutive wins in South Africa for 10 years was not a priority, rather it was about putting into effect on the field what they trained and they had managed that last week but they also wanted to keep improving.

"One game doesn't make a season, just like two games doesn't lose you a season. We know we've got to put games together, put performances together that showcase who we are and when we do that we know we'll get the results at the end of it," he said.

While the side was similar to that which started against the Lions, Umaga said it had still been a tough selection to make because of the spark the bench players had given to the side to achieve their win in Johannesburg.

There had been some bumps and bruises for players in that game, with lock Scott Scrafton injured and replaced by Josh Goodhue who had been flown in as cover, but the side had stayed at altitude until Wednesday and had managed a training week that was as good as possible, he said.

The defensive effort against the Lions had been a factor in their win and they were always looking at reducing errors that put them on defence and being able to transition their game when that happened.

It was something that excited the players which was great, he said, but the emphasis this week had gone into the execution of their attack.

"Hopefully we can get that a little better and improve on that," he said.

The Stormers would be a similar proposition to the Lions.

"I think they like to chuck it around, they've got some young, exciting players in their side, some excellent counter-attackers and I'm sure a team coached by Robbie Fleck and which has Paul Feeney involved will have some ideas around attacking some opportunities that they've seen.

"We're taking nothing for granted, we have to be ready for anything and yet we still want to implement our own game," he said.

"I still think they'll want to play, that's the nature of the Stormers. Hopefully it'll be a good game, it's an afternoon game and the weather's not too bad."

Commenting on the start No.8 Akira Ioane had made to the season, Umaga said he was a big fan of him because he saw the work he did week in and week out and he had played 80 minutes in each of the games so far and had been pretty devastating in all of those, and yet Ioane knew he could still improve and get better at being consistent.

There had always been a question mark over him in terms of his engagement and work rate and the Blues were challenging him on that. But he was a player who could be devastating and all he needed was to be consistent in that.

"The other side is that he's developing as a real leader for us, the way he talks, the way he performs on the field for us really excites the boys and he gets them up and he's great off the field as well," he said.

Umaga was also looking for more cohesion in the mid-field between Sonny Bill Williams and Rieko Ioane, especially in relation to the timing in some of the moves they were attempting.

They were both players who performed well in big games at key moments and they shared confidence in their abilities and they spread that among others in the side.

"They really back themselves and that's what we need," he said.