Peter Sloane, Grant Fox, Bruce Robertson
Player of the Year
Sloane’s reign begins
Former Highlanders coach Peter Sloane took over the Blues for the 2002 season along with Grant Fox and Bruce Robertson. Ironically, Sloane presided over the first defeat suffered by an Auckland-based side to an Otago-based side for 26 years when the Highlanders won 20-13 in round 11. This was the first time the Gordon Hunter Memorial Trophy was at stake, honouring the man who had been such a special part of both teams.
Howlett get Blues off to perfect start before season falters
The Blues opened the season in emphatic fashion, thrashing the Hurricanes 60-7, a night on which Doug Howlett scored four tries in one game. Malili Muliaina went on to emulate the feat two months later against the Bulls when the Blues tore apart their South African counterparts, 65-24.
Another highlight of the season was the team’s 22-20 victory over the Waratahs, which put an end to the Sydney based club’s five match unbeaten streak. Three losses in the Blues’ final six games was a disappointing finish to the season and the Blues dropped to sixth on the ladder.
Sixth place finish fails to paint accurate picture of season
While the sixth placing was a significant improvement on the previous year’s 11th, the Blues won only two more matches than 2001. Also, because of the poor showing of the Cats and Bulls, the number of points required to qualify for a semi-final dramatically increased from 32 the year before to 38. Nonetheless, the Blues still finished well short of that objective. Under Frank Oliver they had finished 11 points away from the top four. Peter Sloane’s team was nine points short of the number required.
- Played: 11
- Win: 6
- Loss: 5
- PF: 318
- PA: 249
- Diff: +69
- BP 5
- Points: 29
- Place: 6th