Parsons defends under-fire Umaga

“The first thing he said to us after the game was he apologised for not being good enough to get us ready for this week. He takes ownership and is a man about it, and I think that’s a great man to follow.”

Parsons went on to say that the Blues showed a distinct lack of hunger and were guilty of complacency.

“It’s a big learning curve for some of our young men,” Parsons said.

“They need to realise it doesn’t matter what team you come up against, if you think you’re going to just turn up and play and win, that doesn’t happen at this level.

“I hope they learn and never have to experience that again. If there’s one silver lining, it’s that there is no false sense of security for us, going into 2018, about where we sit and the adjustments we need to make.

“I’ve always said that our biggest growth area is consistency and the only way we can get that is when our players prepare on a consistent basis to get those consistent results.

Parsons said the players were so gutted they were dreading flying back to Auckland where their loyal fans would inevitably be waiting for them.

“It’s genuinely gutting.

“I make no excuses, we needed to be better than that and we weren’t. That is a real-life example that we can use as leaders, as coaches, of what will happen if you switch off … we were embarrassed, we still are embarrassed.

“The boys were at the airport, wishing they could fly somewhere else, because we knew what we were coming back to and we knew how much we had let people down.

“We have such loyal fans – there were people at the airport to greet us – and we’re so grateful for that support.”