Plane issues put Blues behind schedule ahead of Lions clash in Johannesburg




Blues boss Tana Umaga admits he's a touch irked by the side's travel delays on the way to South Africa this week, but says his players have adapted to their changed schedule without fuss.

Tana Umaga, Blues coach and Jerome Kaino, Blues captain before the Super Rugby game between Crusaders v Blues held at AMI Stadium. 04 March 2016. Photo: Joseph Johnson /

Blues coach talks to Blues flanker before a Super Rugby match against the Crusaders.

Source: Photosport

The beleaguered Aucklanders were set to fly out to Johannesburg via Sydney on Sunday, where they'll face the Lions this weekend.

But, due to an engineering issue with their plane, they were unable to get off the ground at Auckland Airport, remaining in the departure lounge all day before eventually being booked into a hotel for the night.

They didn't arrive in Johannesburg until Tuesday morning (NZT).

Umaga said the side's preparations were hampered by the mishap, as they attempt to shrug off jetlag and get some training sessions under their belt.

But the players had faced the challenge with a stiff upper lip.

"We didn't have our structures in place as we wanted them, so just one of those things - we would've liked to arrive on Sunday (local time)," Umaga said.

"It gives us a whole week, as we do normally at home.

"It's not an excuse, just something we have to suck up and handle.

"I think they've done really well, considering we spent most of our day at the airport waiting for the possibility of trying to get out of Auckland."

On the bright side for Umaga, he'll be able to call upon the go-forward of Jerome Kaino and Sonny Bill Williams for the match, both back in the run-on XV.

Akira Ioane of the Blues makes a break on his way to score a try. Super Rugby match, Blues v Chiefs at Eden Park, Auckland, New Zealand. 2 March 2018 © Copyright Photo: Anthony Au-Yeung /

Akira Ioane of the Blues makes a break on his way to score a try against the Chiefs.

Source: Photosport

Rieko Ioane will join Williams in the midfield, while hooker James Parsons will captain the side in the injury-enforced absence of Augustine Pulu.

The Blues have lost both of their 2018 games, against the Highlanders and Chiefs.

"Every win, every game is important," Umaga said.

"We've just got to do what we've been doing in practice, I think that's key.

"We train well, it's about getting out there and putting it in place."

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