Super Rugby Pacific: Leon MacDonald earns high praise from Blues alumnus

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 Credit: PA Images
Credit: PA Images

Former Blues and New Zealand hooker Keven Mealamu has lauded Leon MacDonald for the way he has finally unlocked the Blues’ potential this season.

The Auckland franchise has had a torrid time over the past couple of decades under a variety of big-ticket coaches such as Sir John Kirwan and Tana Umaga, none of whom seem ever able to have found a mix that led to sustained success.

Sustained run

There were a couple of seasons of false dawn, such as under Pat Lam in 2011, but each time the team stirred, it fell flat the following season.

But under MacDonald, the team had started to record winning seasons again, before claiming the Trans-Tasman Super Rugby trophy last year. This year the Blues have backed it up, with a 13-match winning streak and now a home-based path to the Super Rugby Pacific final.

The mix is simple, but in Mealamu’s eyes, MacDonald is being rewarded for his hard work in creating it.

“Look at the potential over the years,” he said to the New Zealand Herald.

“There has always been potential but I suppose it’s finding the right structure and system and the belief from the players to play in a system they enjoy and one that’s successful as well.

“When you’re able to put together some really good performances and even win games that come down to the wire, you build this real strong belief in the team. One thing I’ve seen is the enjoyment but also the belief in being able to beat any side.”

The recruitment has also been shrewd, both on and off the pitch, reckons Mealamu. Three matches now stand between the team and a trophy-winning season once again, in which the team and its belief will be tested in full.

“When you get to this side of the competition, you’ll see teams that haven’t played that well step up to the mark,” warned Mealamu.

“It’s just a matter of making sure you play to your potential. You’ve got to play for that 80 minutes. If you look too far ahead there’s always that possibility of slipping up.”

READ MORE: All Blacks trio return for Crusaders’ quarter-final against Reds

The article Super Rugby Pacific: Leon MacDonald earns high praise from Blues alumnus appeared first on Planetrugby.com.

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