Super Rugby: Breaking New Zealand franchise hoodoo key to Blues success in 2018 - Matt Duffie

Matt Duffie has scored 8-tries in 23 games for the Blues.
Matt Duffie has scored 8-tries in 23 games for the Blues. Photo credit: Photosport

Knocking off the New Zealand franchises will be the key to a successful 2018 Super Rugby season for the Blues.

The Auckland side was winless against their conference rivals in 2017, a stat the ultimately cost Tana Umaga's men a spot in the playoffs.

Winger Matt Duffie believes the Blues are on the right track, but has stressed the importance of performing when it matters most to break a playoff drought that dates back to 2011.

"It is a really important year for us," Duffie told Newshub.

"We really need to start knocking off the New Zealand teams, which has been a big hurdle for us.

"Those key games - the key moments - those are what we need to win this year."

Duffie is well rested, after an extended off-season break, as he got married in the New Year.

The 27-year-old needed the down time, after a 52-week season.

Duffie's end-of-year All Black selection extended the former NRL star's season into a year-long stretch of rugby, after a full pre-season campaign with the Blues.

"It was a cool mental break," Duffie told Newshub.

Duffie played two games for the All Blacks on the end of year tour.
Duffie played two games for the All Blacks on the end of year tour. Photo credit: Photosport

"I was so zonked after the long year [2017] that it was just nice to get away and not have to worry about training, what I am doing or what I am eating."

Duffie scoffed at talk that the Blues' recent Brisbane Global Tens win was an indicator of how the season would go, but he really enjoyed the success of a mixed squad of development players, young squad members and a few senior players, such as George Moala.

"It was pretty cool. There were a lot of young guys in the squad, and they just went out there and played their butts of really.

"I was really proud of them."

Duffie's rugby league links have seen comparisons drawn to Roger Tuivasa-Sheck, amid speculation that the Warriors captain is considering a switch to rugby.

Duffie spent five years at the Melbourne Storm, before jumping to the Blues in 2016.

That decision was vindicated by All Blacks selection in November.

The one-Test Kiwi said Tuivasa-Sheck would be a welcome addition to the Blues.

"Absolutely," Duffie said. "Get him down to the Blues I say.

"He has a great skill set. It will be hard to pry him away from the NRL, but in saying, that fingers crossed, as it would be great to have him here."

The Blues begin their season against the Highlanders on February 23.