Umaga pleased in Brisbane but not carried away   11 Feb 2018

Lynn McConnell


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The Blues did win the World Club Tens in 2014 but it wasn't an event on the same scale as played out over two hot days in Brisbane, although rain affected the semifinals and final.

The win may have only been achieved with an injury time try to captain George Moala to secure the 10-7 win over the Hurricanes, but that in itself was cause for celebration because plenty of Blues sides of the past would not have handled that pressure.

Umaga told media afterwards: "We'll take any win at the minute, very happy with that, especially with the group we have over here.

"Some guys have been with us for two months, some two weeks, but they showed some real resilience and real fortitude to combine.

"Then some other senior players stepped up who don't usually have that opportunity.

"Obviously for us the result is great but some of the off-field stuff and the ability to follow through and win those critical moments for us, and amongst the leadership we had, was really pleasing for us," he said.

The squad had endured problems with injuries during the pre-season and while the squad is officially 38 they had 59 players involved at one stage as injury cover.

"Again, I take my hat off to our players the way they really made an effort to get to know each other and build something…I'm just so proud of the way they stood up to it.

"We got some confidence out of it. We understand there are no [Super Rugby] points awarded in the pre-season and we still need to work on some things and integrate the All Blacks back on Thursday," he said.

What had also been achieved was an assessment of the younger players on a wider stage than usual with a lot of the sort of contact that might be expected in Super Rugby and they had stood up to that well which was beneficial in their longer term outlook, he said.

Captain Jimmy Tupou, who was only able to play in the opening game of the tournament, was delighted when his stand-in leader Moala scored the matchwinner.

"I was standing on the sideline but George Moala was our captain all day, and he's a guy that doesn't say much but likes to lead with his actions. He took things upon himself and really just went for it.

"That's been how we've played the last couple of days. We just want to have a crack and have nothing to lose," he said.

"I was feeling pretty tired watching it myself [on the sideline], it was two pretty tough days out in the heat and to get that result, especially the way we did was pretty awesome," he said.

Umaga said having Carlos Spencer involved during the tournament had been outstanding and while he wouldn't be paying too much attention to his tackle and contact statistics, there was no doubt he had been invaluable in passing on tidbits to players both during the tournament and while training with the side.


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