herald

Friday 17 August 2018

Berquist’s eager to see a Blues backlash

Former Canterbury Crusader |fly-half Mat Berquist is eager to "right the wrongs" of Leinster’s loss to the Ospreys when they host another Welsh region, the Dragons, in the PRO12 League on Friday night.

The 28-year-old New Zealander sees himself as more than just a journeyman.

Leinster is his sixth club, the first outside of his homeland.

He has moved from playing the part as Dan Carter’s back-up to contesting with Ian Madigan to be Jonathan Sexton’s number two.

Berquist has played two seasons of Super Rugby for the Otago Highlanders (2009 & 2010) and a single season for Canterbury (2011).

He is a renowned goal-kicker, playmaker and distributor.

The warm welcome he received and impressive pre-season cameos against Melbourne Rebels and Northampton Saints were quickly replaced by the debacle at Ospreys and a tongue-lashing from Joe Schmidt to the entire Leinster squad.

“It is different without the experienced guys,” Berquist said.

“In saying that, the young guys bring a lot of enthusiasm.

“I am sure after the weekend’s performance we will right those wrongs and put in a good show.”

In truth, an out-half can only operate off the quality of service delivered to his fingertips by the forward pack and scrum-half.

It is next to impossible to generate momentum off back-foot rugby.

“We didn’t get the things right that you need to – in whatever rugby team you’re in,” said Berquist.

Continuity

“That was the set-piece and the ruck. They had a big influence on the game.

“In the first half, we couldn’t get continuity with the ball, turning it over a lot. We were behind the posts a few times. That affects how you can run a game.”

Coach Schmidt has already

pinpointed the breakdown and the contact zone as areas that need to be transformed to deal with the always committed Dragons at |The RDS.

This should allow Berquist |or Madigan to dictate the |ebb-and-flow of the game on their terms, rather than reacting to the crumbs that fall from the Dragons’ table.

“My style of game is to direct the boys around the paddock and have a strong kicking game,” Berquist said.

“If we can |get the aspects |of the game, sorted, I would like to bring in |a running flair |to the game as well.”

He has the skills.

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