The Blues have made a vibrant start to the new Super Rugby season but lock Patrick Tuipulotu admits to feeling on edge.
Tuipulotu, 23, is into his third season with the Auckland-based franchise, who have won the competition three times, but haven’t made the play-offs since 2011.
Under new coach Tana Umaga, the Blues hinted at better things in 2016 with a pulsating 33-31 win over the defending champion Highlanders at Eden Park last weekend.
Tuipulotu, who showed his characteristic ball-carrying ability and also scored what turned out to be the winning try, says there’s an upbeat mood in the camp ahead of the away match against the Crusaders on Friday night.
“Overall, it’s a general exciting feeling,” he said.
“I think a bit on edge as well, but eager to see how we pan out.”
Why the edginess?
“For me, it’s just thinking about past seasons, how we haven’t done that well,” he said.
“We don’t want that creeping back in.”
Tuipulotu also said the Blues knew it was just one win and Umaga had done a good job of keeping everyone grounded.
The match marked the seven-Test All Black’s return to competitive rugby after having double hip surgery that ended his World Cup hopes.
He came away feeling the effects of an 80-minute effort, after getting 40 minutes of game time during the pre-season hit-outs.
“The lungs got through it OK,” he said.
“It’s just the body is getting used to it again.”
However, Tuipulotu rated himself at close to full fitness and the outing had boosted his confidence.
“I feel I’m in a good space and ready for the season ahead.”
He will get another gauge on where he’s at when he faces a Crusaders pack who showed plenty of the power in a 27-21 defeat to the Chiefs.
The forwards set up both Crusaders tries, the first with a huge scrum shunt to win a tighthead and the second with a strong lineout drive.
“All I know is it’s going to be tough,” Tuipulotu said.
“The backs will do their thing, but the game will be won up front.”