Former league star Benji Marshall made an encouraging debut for the Blues on Saturday in a 38-35 loss to the Hurricanes in Masterton.
All eyes were on Marshall, who appeared calm, made some line-breaking passes and had a few runs himself in this low-key warm-up outing.
'It was a bit of a blur to be honest,' Marshall said. 'I struggled to get a feel in the first 20 minutes but in my second 20 I started to realise what it's going to take to direct the team. I didn't set the game on fire but got some control. When you don't have the ball, it's a tough sport but once we controlled possession it felt great.
'I hit a couple of rucks but don't think I was taking anybody out. I don't really understand the rules there yet,' he added with a laugh. 'I was just guessing. The defence is also different with so much of it sliding, compared to league.
'Having [Hurricanes flank] Ardie Savea coming at me a lot of times from the inside [channel] gave me a feel for what's coming. It's daunting.'
Blues – Tries: Lolagi Visinia, Jackson Willison, Sonatane Tokolua, Tevita Li (2). Conversions: Albert Nikoro (3), Baden Kerr (2).
Hurricanes – Tries: Chris Smylie, Marty Banks, Nehe Milner-Skudder, Callum Gibbins, Hadleigh Parkes, James Broadhurst. Conversions: Banks (3), Tom Taylor.
Blues – 1 Sam Prattley, 2 James Parsons, 3 Ofa Tu'ungafasi, 4 Liaki Moli, 5 Patrick Tuipulotu, 6 Kane Barrett, 7 Brendon O'Connor, 8 Peter Saili, 9 Bryn Hall, 10 Benji Marshall, 11 Tevita Li, 12 Jackson Willison, 13 George Moala, 14 Lolagi Visinia, 15 Albert Nikoro.
Subs: 16 Greg Pleasants-Tate, 17 Tom McCartney, 18 Angus Ta'avao, 19 William Lloyd, 20 Tom Murday, 21 Jordan Manihera, 22 Chris Vui, 23 Jamison Gibson-Park, 24 Sonatane Takulua, 25 Baden Kerr, 26 Matt McGahan, 27 Marty Swart
Hurricanes – 1 Chris Eves, 2 Joe Royal, 3 Brendon Edmonds, 4 Mark Abbott, 5 James Broadhurst, 6 Jack Lam, 7 Ardie Savea, 8 Brad Shields, 9 Chris Smylie, 10 Marty Banks, 11 Matt Proctor, 12 Cardiff Vaega, 13 Tim Bateman, 14 Newton Tudreu, 15 Nehe Milner-Skudder.
Subs: 16 Motu Matu'u, 17 Adrian Barone, 18 John Schwalger, 19 Mark Reddish, 20 Blade Thomson, 21 Faifili Levave, 22 Adam Hill, 23 Callum Gibbins, 24 Billy Guyton, 25 Beaudein Waaka, 26 Hadleigh Parkes, 27 Andre Taylor.
Photo: Hagen Hopkins/Getty Images