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Blues gearing up for improved 2017 season

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 4/08/2016

Blues coach Tana Umaga says his side is well on track for a more positive 2017 Super Rugby season.

The Auckland-based Blues finished 11th on the overall Super Rugby ladder, making them the only Kiwi side to miss the finals series.

Former All Black captain Umaga said the Blues' end-of-season form, including wins over the Brumbies and Waratahs, was a good sign for things to come.

"The key will be how we start next season and that's what we're going to be judged on," Umaga said.

"There's a lot of expectation around us and we understand that."

Loose forward Jerome Kaino echoed his coach's remarks, saying the Blues were heading in the right direction.

"We're quite happy with the way we finished the season," the 33-year-old said.

"We've got the right systems."

The Blues will join 13 other rugby clubs, including the four other Kiwi clubs, in next February's Brisbane Global Tens pre-season tournament.

With Super Rugby scheduled to begin a fortnight after the Tens, teams are expected to use the whole week as pre-season preparation.

The 43-year-old Umaga said he'd be using the prospect of playing in the competition as a "little cherry" for his players to work hard.

"No-one usually looks forward to pre-season training so it'll put a light at the end of the tunnel and something for these guys to look forward to," Umaga said.

"We want to keep building throughout pre-season and make sure they get their confidence up early."

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