The Blues started Super Rugby with a wham bam and a thank you maam winning the first two seasons in 1996 and 1997. They won in it again in 2003 but things spiraled downhill in Auckland after that.
The Blues almost hit rock bottom last year finishing 14th overall. It might as well have been rock-bottom as far as the rugby fanatics in Auckland were concerned. Just three victories and bottom of the New Zealand conference led All Black legend John Kirwin to a swift resignation.
As Coach Kirwin scuttled off with his tale between his legs it was left to another All Black Tana Umaga to pick up the pieces in New Zealand's capital. As we've seen with John Smit at the Sharks, bringing in a great former player at the top doesn't always solve the problem. It sometimes makes it worse. Well things couldn't get much worse for the Blues so Umaga at least has that to console him during the dark nights that lie ahead.
Keven Mealamu finally hung up his boots after a World Record 175 Super Rugby Games, 164 of them for the Blues.
Mealamu was a great player but he leaves the Blues in bad shape. Only the ineptitude of the Western Force saved the Blues from the wooden spoon last season.
Mealamu's 15-year reign was peppered with a few triumphs along the way. The Blues won the tournament in 2003 and made the semi-finals twice, in 2007 and 2011.
To make matters even worse Luke Braid, the Blues best player has left for the greener vineyards of Bordeaux.
Calum Retallick lasted just one season at Blues before joining the Melbourne Rebels this season.
With an aging Jerome Kaino captaining the side the Blues will look for their youngsters to "step up" (said every captain in every losing interview). We wrote the Stormers off last season with a side that looked as scant as this Blues outfit. But the Stormers young-guns did "step up" and they made the playoffs showing that exuberance can overcome inexperience.
Two rapid-fire young guns, brothers Akira and Rieko Ioane have show up on the radar. The two All-Black Sevens superstars join forces at the Blues. Akira scored five tries for Auckland at Number Eight last season in the ITM Cup and another in Super Rugby. Rieko plays on the wing but may have his sights set on the Rio Olympics.
(scroll down for full squad and transfers for 2016)
Jerome Kaino will Captain the Blues, guided by new coach Tana Umaga
Blues Super Rugby Opening Fixtures 2016
|Fri 26 Feb||Blues||Highlanders||Auckland||19:35||06:35b|
The Blues have played 26 matches against the Highlanders and won 15 for a 58% win record. The average score between the sides is 26-22 with the Blues outscoring the Highlanders by three tries to one. The Blues had won their last four matches against the men from Otago before this season. At home the Blues win 77% of the games in this fixture so history will be against the visitors.
|Blues vs Highlanders||Total||Blues at Home||Blues Away|
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Full Blues squad and transfers
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