Vern Cotter on which Blues players will 'bring an edge to the team'

Vern Cotter is backing his new Blues outfit to go one step further in the 2024 Super Rugby Pacific season, having bowed out just shy of glory each season since a 2021 Trans-Tasman title.

Cotter is one of three incoming Super Rugby Pacific head coaches in the wake of Scott Robertson’s All Blacks overhaul, replacing Leon MacDonald at the Auckland club after leaving Fiji earlier in the year.

While results turned a remarkable corner under his predecessor, Cotter says the squad he’s inherited hold higher expectations.

“It’s a really hard one when you sit back, and I’ve spoken to a number of the players about this as well, there’s an element of disappointment,” The 61-year-old told reporters last Thursday as his squad was announced for the 2024 season.

“They’ve done really well, from where they’ve come from in the last three years. So, it’s just nailing that last little bit now and finding what we need.

“It’s really the player that will come up with the solutions. They’re the guys on the field, doing the business. We’re only there guiding them and helping them a little bit with reflecting on how they can get better in performance situations.

“I’m looking forward to that, sitting down and talking to these guys because there’s talent there and just making sure we then become consistent, and just work on what Leon (MacDonald’s) done the last three years.”

Even with the absence of All Blacks Beauden Barrett and Nepo Laulala, the Blues are indeed deep with talent.

The two departures leave far less of a gap in the starting unit than other familiar domestic rivals, and while boasting 11 remaining All Blacks may project as an advantage, Cotter says the real value in his personnel is their hunger.

“I think it’s the ones that want to become All Blacks that make a difference. Finding guys that genuinely want to put that jersey on, and when we sit down and have our one-on-ones – quite a few guys have already been in which is really nice to see them, and they’re about their work and preparing before the season starts so if there’s a group in there that want to become All Blacks, that’ll bring an edge to the team.”