For Blues coach Leon MacDonald the analogy was appropriately nautical as he detailed the growing unease with which he confronted the latest Covid-19 lockdown, days out from the start of the Super Rugby Aotearoa season.
In the end, MacDonald has missed three days of training with his side in the final week of a truncated pre-season. After the easing of the Auckland region to alert level 2 at midnight on Wednesday amid the latest Covid community outbreak, the Blues were able to return to the training field on Thursday and hastily reconvene their final hitout to a three-way affair in Cambridge on Saturday (noon at Hautapu Sports) involving both the Chiefs and Crusaders.
They had their only other pre-season contest in Wellington last weekend when they, the Hurricanes and Chiefs also played each other for 40 minutes each. No All Blacks featured in that first hit-out.
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The Blues were originally slated to host defending champs the Crusaders at Eden Park on Saturday as part of a celebratory Footy Fest that was set to draw a crowd of close to 25,000. But when Covid reappeared in Auckland that clash was reluctantly cancelled and MacDonalds men were stuck at home wondering what their preparations for next Saturdays season kickoff against the Hurricanes in Wellington were going to look like.
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There was a massive sigh of relief, MacDonald said on Thursday about the news announced a day prior that the region was going back to level 2. We were a little bit nervous as we sat down and Jacinda [Ardern] was giving us the announcement around which level we were either going to drop to or stay at.
We have got the Americas Cup in Auckland, and we were feeling a little bit like a boat at the starting blocks, down off the foils and everyone else is taking off through the gates and down the road. To get back on the grass today has been great. We had a bit of a run this morning and we are about to go out again today. There is a lot of relief and a lot of energy in the camp as well.
Missing three key days of training so close to the season start had been far from ideal for a Blues side re-integrating a large number of late-starting All Blacks. But neither was it insurmountable, MacDonald opined.
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There were doubts but Sam Nock and the Blues will get one more pre-season Super Rugby game in before kickoff.
Our All Blacks have only really been on the grass with us for a week beforehand and then to lose part of this week, when we were going to get some good minutes into them leading into the pre-season game
It is not ideal but it is not the end of the world either. Often you have injuries and the week for a lot of players could start on a Thursday anyway. We are looking on the bright side the fact we are on the grass today is a massive relief and we have got to bring a lot of energy the next two days to catch up.
MacDonald was also hugely thankful for the setting aside of rivalries by both the Crusaders and Chiefs as they did what they could to ensure the Blues were not too disadvantaged ahead of the season kickoff.
Contingency plans were in place for the Blues to travel to Christchurch for the game but when the Chiefs, who had no game penned in for this weekend, jumped in it was decided the best compromise was for all three to come together in a game of three halves in Cambridge. Because of government advice around alert levels travelling, and general carefulness, it will be a behind-closed-doors affair.
Crusaders chief executive Colin Mansbridge said the co-operation among all three franchises had been a royal example of the footy-first mentality that had been struck up around all the Covid challenges in 2020.
In the end it was the most practical arrangement, he said. We had lots of contingencies given lots of potential situations but it became clear Hamilton was going to be the best bet when you consolidated all those potentials.
There is compromise, and a bit of a cost for everyone, when you have to do these things. But if you keep putting footy at the front of it and the fans, you get there in the end.
Chiefs coach Clayton McMillan said he was only too happy to flip a window he had penned in for an inter-squad affair anyway.
Our preference from the get-go would have been to have a hit-out this weekend anyway, we just were not able to pull that together. Now circumstances have changed and we have got that game, he said.
We were going to be playing a game this week regardless, albeit just an internal trial. In some respects if we can get our boys to belt other teams as much as they belt each other, we will probably end up winning a few games.
It is nice to play two quality teams as part of our pre-season. The Chiefs have the bye for the opening round of Super Rugby Aotearoa.