After just two rounds, eight points already separate the impressive Blues from their next Super 14 opponents.
But coach David Nucifora has promised no complacency when his unbeaten side take on the Cheetahs in Bloemfontein on Sunday morning (NZ time).
Robert Lowe writes in the NZ Herald that the Blues and the Crusaders racked up 50 points in South Africa last weekend, leading to complaints there that the experimental laws disadvantaged the local teams.
Despite the Blues’ 55-10 mauling of the Lions, Nucifora said touring the republic remains a tough assignment.
“It’s still a difficult place to win over here, there’s no doubt about that,” he said.
“If we slacken off, get complacent and don’t build on what we did last week, it’s still going to be easy to get tipped over.”
Nucifora described the Cheetahs as a well-organised unit who, unlike some South African sides, played with a lot of structure and pattern to their game.
He noted that their member provinces included Free State, the current domestic Currie Cup champions.
He also said the Cheetahs would also be desperate for victory, after having suffered single-point defeats to both the Lions and the Western Force.
As for the Blues, Nucifora has opted for continuity in selection, making just one change to the starting 15.
At wing, Rudi Wulf gets his chance to be in the run-on side, with Anthony Tuitavake moving to the bench.
With no problems with injury or fatigue, Nucifora saw little need to do any further rotating of his squad this early in the season.
While happy with the Blues’ two fine performances against the Chiefs and Lions, he said he still wanted more patience from his players.
Allied to that was better decision-making with the ball and a more ruthless approach in attack.
“We’ve really had to focus on keeping pressure on our opponents and not being over-eager and trying to throw 50-50 passes that just aren’t on,” Nucifora said.
He said that, under the new rules, holes in the defence would inevitably appear if pressure was sustained on a tiring team.
“If you can maintain possession and keep them under pressure, you’ll eventually find a weak defender.
“So we just have to be patient and patience is a big thing with the laws at the moment.”
Rival coach Naka Drotske was hoping the Blues’ big victory over the Lions might indeed cause them to ease off mentally.
“The fact that they won by such a large points margin could count in our favour,” he said.
“Whenever a team wins by that, it subconsciously creates a comfort zone in the players’ minds.”
But with the likes of first five-eighth Nick Evans and centre Isaia Toeava showing excellent form, Drotske was mindful of the strike power of the Blues’ back division.
The former Springbok hooker said many of the Blues’ tries had come from the extra space afforded by the new rule forcing the defending backline to be five metres further back at scrum time.
Drotske has also made only one change to his starting 15, one forced on him by injury.
Lock David de Villiers comes in for Barend Pieterse, who is sidelined with a torn chest muscle suffered during the loss to the Force.Tweet