Vern Cotter on which Blues players will 'bring an edge to the team'

Cotter is one of three incoming Super Rugby Pacific head coaches in the wake of Scott Robertson’s All Blacks overhaul, replacing Leon MacDonald at the Auckland club after leaving Fiji earlier in the year.

While results turned a remarkable corner under his predecessor, Cotter says the squad he’s inherited hold higher expectations.

“It’s a really hard one when you sit back, and I’ve spoken to a number of the players about this as well, there’s an element of disappointment,” The 61-year-old told reporters last Thursday as his squad was announced for the 2024 season.

Crusaders expect plenty of niggle from the Blues

The Blues will endeavour to upset a Crusaders outfit who command a superlative post-season record at home.

And with the injury-decimated hosts looking vulnerable on paper, there is an expectation the northerners will look to unsettle the red and black machine in Christchurch.

Hurricanes and All Blacks hooker Dane Coles served up a push-button masterclass against the Crusaders a fortnight ago during the regular season's final weekend.

Barrett expects something similar on Friday night.

Blues look to end a dynasty

Blues coach Leon MacDonald is also looking for final bragging rights over his great mate Scott Robertson before the pair link up to lead the All Blacks.

The two will go head to head as the Crusaders and Blues square off in the Super Rugby semi final.

The Crusaders are unbeaten in Super Rugby play off games at home and MacDonald said his side will need to play close to the perfect game to end the dynasty in Christchurch.

"The challenge of going down there and potentially breaking that record, that's a big carrot and great motivation for us."

Mark Talea goes next level in Blues 36-25 win over Hurricanes

The Hurricanes were completely outplayed in the first 30 minutes but did well to get back in the game to trail the home side 19-10 at half time.

Their cause wasn't helped when Julian Savea had to leave the field early with an injury.

A high octane final 10 minutes saw four tries scored.

It started when Kini Naholo crossed the line for the Hurricanes to get within four points of the Blues.

But a couple of minutes later Reiko Ioane replied for the Blues.

Naholo then got his second try but Talea put it out of doubt when he crossed for his fourth.

Crusaders blunt Blues' attacking weapons in hard-fought victory

The first half was a physical arm wrestle with both sides held scoreless for the first 29 minutes.

The Crusaders broke through for their opening try from Quinten Strange on the half hour mark with plenty of power and work from CodieTaylor in the set-up.

The first chance for points for the Blues came from the boot of Beauden Barrett who slotted a penalty.

With points hard to come by, the home side took the three as Richie Mo'unga converted a penalty before the half-time break.

The Crusaders held a narrow 10-3 lead heading into the changing sheds.

All Black set for Crusaders milestone in crunch clash with rivals Blues

With the race for a top four spot in the playoffs heating up, this weekend’s clash between the two New Zealand rivals means even more.

Defending champions the Crusaders, who beat the Blues in a tight tussle earlier in the season, will host the competitions third-ranked side at Orangetheory Stadium, Christchurch, on Saturday.

The Crusaders are fourth, and risk falling behind the Hurricanes and into fifth on the ladder if they fail to beat the Blues.

Blues pip Moana Pasifika in heartbreaking fashion

Following nine straight losses, Moana Pasifika were pipped in the final seconds in the one point thriller, to remain winless for the season.

Down by six points with time up, the Blues were awarded a penalty try from a scrum in the last play of the game.

Blues captain Dalton Papali'i said it was a considerable effort to come away with the win, despite being below their best.

"There's a bit of mixed emotions, we knew Moana was going to come here and bring it to us," he said.

Blues strike in Lautoka for hard-fought win

With dominance in the forward pack, at the set piece, and with relentless defence, the visitors' contained the Drua's pace and flair.

Overcoming a slow start, the Auckland side brushed aside a number of handling errors exacerbated by the hot and humid conditions to lead 20-7 at halftime.

First-five Barrett kicked a penalty to open the scoring after 25 minutes when neither side posted any points on the scoreboard.

Then Rieko Ioane opened the try-scoring for the Blues, before the Drua, supported by a vocal home crowd, hit back through No.8 Elia Canakaivata.

Blues sweating on fitness of Perofeta and Laulala

Fullback Perofeta was feeling his shoulder while Laulala incurred a calf problem during the 55-21 win at Eden Park on Saturday.

Coach Leon Macdonald is hoping the damage isn't too serious.

"Both look relatively significant," he told journalists.

"Stevey felt his shoulder move a little bit so we need to get a scan on that. I think he's done something to that shoulder in the past so he'll be sweating on that.

"And Nepo's calf doesn't look 100 percent great as well."

Blues have chance to highlight title credentials

The Blues, who dominated the regular season last year, have already suffered two losses and turned in an unconvincing performance in their round five win over Western Force, albeit after a stomach bug had ripped through the squad.

Fourth in the standings behind the Chiefs, Hurricanes and ACT Brumbies, the Blues welcome back All Blacks lock Patrick Tuipulotu for a match in which they could make a season-defining statement.

"The Chiefs have been the form side so far this season," said Blues captain Dalton Papalii, looking forward to Saturday's clash.