Blues Flanker Reveals Cotter’s Transformative Impact Ahead of Drua Clash

Blues flanker Dalton Papali’i credits head coach Vern Cotter’s no-nonsense approach for igniting the team’s renewed sense of purpose and performance this Super Rugby Pacific season. As they gear up to face the Fijian Drua in the quarter-finals, the Blues are focused on overcoming the unique challenge posed by their resilient opponents and proving their doubters wrong in their quest for the elusive title.

BBC Rugby Union: Blues Flanker Reveals Cotter’s Impact Ahead of Drua Clash

Blues Openside Flanker Discusses Cotter’s Transformative Influence

Blues openside flanker Dalton Papali’i has opened up about the transformative influence of head coach Vern Cotter on the team’s performance this Super Rugby Pacific season. Papali’i credited Cotter’s “tough words” at the start of the campaign for setting the stage for their impressive run to the quarter-finals.

The Auckland-based outfit finished second in the standings, securing a 31-17 victory over the Chiefs. They now prepare to face the Fijian Drua at Eden Park on Saturday, with Papali’i acknowledging the unique challenge posed by their resilient opponents.

“There were some pretty tough words – I won’t say it,” Papali’i revealed to 1News. “Just, you know, we’re just Aucklanders, we’re townies, we don’t want to work hard, we just want the result.”

Cotter, who took over the Blues after the departure of former boss Leon MacDonald, did not mince his words in addressing what he perceived as the team’s lack of ambition. The 62-year-old coach’s no-nonsense approach, however, has galvanized the Blues, infusing them with a renewed sense of purpose.

“He has changed that. I think his nature has brought a bit of that old-school fire to us. I think you can see it. When we’re playing well our forwards are dominating… we’re smashing people,” the flanker noted.

Despite being overlooked by many in New Zealand, the Blues are determined to prove their doubters wrong.

“A lot of New Zealand don’t think we’re up to the task, but that’s the beauty of footy – we get to prove them wrong,” Papali’i asserted.

The Blues have encountered heartbreak in recent Super Rugby Pacific campaigns, finishing as runners-up to the Crusaders in 2021 and losing to them in the semi-finals last year. Their quest for redemption now faces a stern test against the Fijian Drua, a team renowned for its enterprising and unpredictable style of play.

Papali’i acknowledged the significance of the upcoming quarter-final, stating, “We know the weight that’s coming this week and we know the Drua can light it up whenever they want.” The Blues will need to draw upon Cotter’s “old-school fire” to overcome the Fijian challenge and continue their pursuit of the elusive Super Rugby Pacific title.

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