Super Rugby Pacific: Blues wary of shorthanded Hurricanes challenge despite unbeaten start to season

They might be unbeaten this Super Rugby Pacific season, but the Blues feel the biggest test of their progress is about to come.

Vern Cotter's side travel to Wellington to face the also-unbeaten Hurricanes, who go into the contest somewhat undermanned, without suspended All Blacks star Jordie Barrett.

Things are cranking up a notch at Blues HQ. The tackles are harder and conversations to the point, but despite an unbeaten start to the season, coach Cotter still needs convincing.

Jordie Barrett settles in for a long spell on the sidelines after a high tackle.
Jordie Barrett settles in for a long spell on the sidelines after a high tackle. Photo credit: Photosport

"I think there's a lot more in us," he insisted. "I think we can get better and that'll be every day.

"We have to try and be better, and if I say I'm happy, they'll stop working."

They can ill afford that against a Hurricanes side also riding high. If they're to make it three from three in the capital, they'll have to do it the hard way, even with Barrett in the stands for three weeks.

"I'm a bit of a glass-half-full kind of guy and optimistic Jordie has to have All Black rest at some point," said Hurricanes coach Clark Laidlaw. "We can use these weeks to make sure we get his training weeks and gameload right."

Barrett's red card and subsequent suspension serve as a timely reminder for everyone that poor tackle height won't be tolerated.

"I think it's a wake-up call for everyone," agreed Blues captain Dalton Papali'i. "You can't have shoulder-to-head contact, that's just the way game is and we've got to install better habits."

After overcoming a tenacious Reds side to edge a golden-point thriller, Hurricanes confidence is high, although Laidlaw is quick to keep the side grounded.

"The Blues are a different prospect," he said. "They're two from two and will be licking their lips around coming down here."

They sure are, with a clear 'tribalism' theme in Blues camp this week.

"You put your jersey on, they put their jersey on and one of these two teams will walk away with the first loss of the season," said Cotter. "It becomes tribal."

The Blues are out to make sure it's not them.

Join Newshub at 7pm Saturday for live updates of the Hurricanes v Blues Super Rugby Pacific clash