Tuipulotu looking for milestone reward

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Wednesday, April 11, 2018    Lynn McConnell    Getty Images

Tuipulotu said he wasn't aware of the milestone until someone pointed it out to him although he felt if he hadn't endured so many injuries he should be playing something like his 80th game.

But while there had been tough times for himself, and the Blues, he didn't think he would want to play anywhere else.

"For me it's an honour to get 50, it's certainly taken its time," he said.

He felt he had come a long way since making his debut in 2014. He had suffered some setbacks especially in 2017 but he had taken confidence from starting this year well.

"Going through my processes now I am quite happy with where I am," he said.

The lack of good results had been frustrating for the team because they knew how hard they were working and how close they were getting to achieving the all important wins but in the end they couldn't seem to close things out.

Tuipulotu said in spite of the frustration the spirits were high in the side, especially after their improved defensive effort in Hamilton against the Chiefs at the weekend.

"It wasn't a win but we could be proud of what we put out there," he said.

Comparing the ability to get over the line with that he had experienced with the All Blacks, he said the difference was patience.

"We [the Blues] get in a bit of panic mode whereas in the All Blacks it is belief. It is hard to bring it out of some young guys, especially us as a young team but I think we're getting the hang of it. But we've got to trust our processes and how we get through the week and into the game.

"It's coming but it's hard to stand here and say that after the last couple of years we have had. It's something we're working on and it's something we're looking forward to and as a group inside being tied together, especially based on our last performance, it's coming," he said.

Tuipulotu said he felt the side was in a better position than it had been for two or three seasons and joining the side at the start of the season he felt everything had gelled well.

"It's a couple of steps ahead compared to this time last year so in terms of that I think we're heading in the right direction," he said.

With 10 rounds still to go there was still a chance to put together some meaningful outcomes from the campaign and that continued against the Sunwolves at the weekend.

Tuipulotu didn't play in the Sunwolves loss last year but said the big lesson had been not to get complacent.

He said talking to the players who went to Japan it appeared they hadn't prepared well, they hadn't gone over for the right reasons whereas this time around it was a lot simpler, they were going to do one job and that was the focus.

They had gone over early in 2017, played a warm-up game and had gone into Tokyo late and a lot of players had been distracted and hadn't knuckled down for what was a mid-day game in 40-degree heat.

It was up to the players to sort their situation because the coaching staff could only do so much.

This time it was a much later arrival on Wednesday, they had started their preparation on Sunday and the challenge had been put out to the players by coach Tana Umaga.

"It's up to us, we're only there for one job and we know the Sunwolves can play from anywhere and their coaching staff have had experience of playing us quite a bit and they can do anything, pull anything out of the bag so it's up to us to do the job and Tana has laid that out," he said.