Super Rugby Pacific: Blues insist Australian Super Rugby resurgence great for competition as they prepare for Waratahs clash

Blues players and staff agree the sudden resurgence of the Australian Super Rugby Pacific franchises is fantastic for the competition, and they can no longer rely on their trans-Tasman rivals being easy beats.   

It comes after four Australian teams made very competitive starts to the new season, with the Queensland Reds, Melbourne Rebels, Canberra Brumbies and New South Wales Waratahs all sitting inside the top eight after three rounds.  

Last weekend, the Reds upset the pre-season title favourites Chiefs 25-19 at Suncorp Stadium, while the Waratahs cruised past seven-time defending champion Crusaders 37-24 in round two.   

With the Blues preparing to travel across the ditch for their round three game against the Waratahs, assistant coach Paul Tito says they can no longer expect to just walk away with a win like they have done in previous seasons. 

"They're playing much better rugby and it's good for the competition," he said.

Queensland Reds celebrate victory over the Chiefs.
Queensland Reds celebrate victory over the Chiefs. Photo credit: Getty Images

"They're having a real crack at the Kiwi teams where in the past, they were maybe a little bit hesitant and weren't really backing themselves.  

"It's good to see they are putting the Kiwi teams on notice, so we are going to have to be at our best if we want to go there and get some wins.  

"For me it's great. Last few years it was a given what was going to happen and now we've seen two Aussie teams have good wins over the weekend." 

The former Chiefs and Hurricanes lock credits Australia's poor performance at the 2023 Rugby World Cup for the sudden change in 2024. 

The Wallabies failed to qualify for the knockout stages in Paris, finishing behind both Wales and Fiji in Pool C. Head coach Eddie Jones resigned after the calamitous campaign and was replaced by former Ireland and All Blacks coach Joe Schmidt.   

"They would have been pretty low to be fair after the World Cup, but they're coming together, and we've seen an increase in performance from them," said Tito.   

"Obviously Joe is now sitting in the stands, and everyone is pretty keen to impress."  

Blues and All Blacks halfback Finlay Christie agrees that every Australian side presents a far tougher challenge in 2024 than years gone by.    

"They're looking a lot more physical, a bit more drilled," he said. "We're going over there expecting a big tussle, so we have to prepare well."  

The Blues hope to make up for their eight-point loss to the Hurricanes at Wellington, leaving the men in yellow the last undefeated side in the competition.   

With the Canes and Crusaders meeting at Christchurch, and the Chiefs preparing to face the Fijian Drua in Hamilton, the Highlanders are the only other Kiwi side to face an Aussie opponent in round four.  

They'll face the Brumbies at Forsyth Barr Stadium with the two sides currently both sitting with nine points on the table. 

Join Newshub at 9:30pm Saturday for live updates of the Blues v Waratahs Super Rugby Pacific clash