The Blues are excited by a challenging fixture list for the revamped 2018 Investec Super Rugby season, with the draw announced today.
Under the new format, all New Zealand teams play each other twice – home and away – which means more action-packed local derbies for the fans and they will get to support the Blues at home against every other New Zealand club.
The Blues take on eight teams from the Australian and South African Conferences but they are split with two from each conference at home and two from each conference away. They will not play the Brumbies or the Bulls.
There will be eight home games for the Blues in the 2018 season, with the club currently finalising venues which will be released once finalised with the other New Zealand clubs next month.
The big challenge comes early for the Blues with an away trip in rounds three and four against last season’s two leading South African sides, the beaten finalists Lions in Johannesburg and the Stormers in Cape Town.
The Blues’ season kicks off on the road down south against the Highlanders and the first home game is the following week on Friday 2 March when the Blues host neighbours and perennial rivals, the Chiefs.
The Blues also get an opportunity to right the mistakes of the last game of the 2017 season, when they head back to Tokyo to take on the Sunwolves, with the forecasted temperatures in Tokyo for their April match considerably less than what the Blues faced this year.
Head coach Tana Umaga said the draw, as always, presents plenty of challenges and plenty of opportunities.
“The reality is that there are no easy games in this competition. This year we play two more derby games and they proved incredibly physical last season,” Umaga said.
“We need to take our learnings from this year and make Eden Park and our other home venues absolute fortresses for us.
“There are no easy draws or hard draws – they are what they are and we have to deal with each game accordingly. We have to plan well, work harder than we have ever worked both as individuals and as a team and make our mark on this competition.
“With the help of our fans we can make the 2018 Super Season our best for a long time.”