Super Rugby Pacific: Blues showing no scars of 2022 final defeat on eve of new season

No scars linger from the Blues' Super Rugby Pacific heartbreak of last year, as the team ready themselves for another attempt at the title.

Without a genuine Super Rugby title since 2003 - excluding the Super Rugby Trans-Tasman win of 2021 - the Blues came as close as ever to ending their drought last year.

Leon MacDonald's side went a staggering 15 games unbeaten, only to fall at the final hurdle, with a 21-7 loss to the Crusaders.

Just days away from starting again, first-five Beauden Barrett insists the lessons of that defeat have been learned and processed in time for another crack this year.

Despite their form leading up to the 2022 final, he knows history counts for nothing, when the new season kicks off on Friday.

"We've learned from that, but also we've moved on as well," Barrett told Newshub. "It's a different competition this year and we've got to earn the right to be in that position again.

"We're not expecting to make the finals. Of course, we have those standards and expectations, but we've got to earn it.

"It still hurts, but we use that as motivation. The opportunity in front of us is the Highlanders this week.

"Of course, if things fall into place and we earn the right to get in the finals again, we'll probably remember it then."

This shapes as a huge year, not just for Barrett and the Blues, but all players in New Zealand. The shadow of the 2023 World Cup in France hangs over the game, with players looking to put their hands up for higher honours.

Barrett will play what could be his final season in New Zealand and as an All Black, before returning to Japan's Rugby League One, so making the most of what the new season brings is most important part.

"There's a spring in all of our steps, it's the first week of Super Rugby," he said.

Beauden Barrett against the Crusaders.
Beauden Barrett against the Crusaders. Photo credit: Photosport

"Fans are excited, we're excited, the coaches are excited - that was shown out there today by the intensity of our training.

"Of course, it's a big year. We always say it's one game at a time.

"It's about me enjoying it each day and turning up with a smile on my face, getting around the lads and enjoying it."

The Blues begin their 2023 campaign on Saturday, when they travel to Dunedin to face the Highlanders.

Join us from Friday for live updates of the 2023 Super Rugby Pacific season