PREVIEW: Blues get their All Blacks back

Wed, 14 Feb 2018 08:26
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SUPER RUGBY PRE-SEASON: The Blues have brought in their All Blacks for their final pre-season match against the Hurricanes ahead of the start of the Super Rugby Championship.

Ofa Tu'ungafasi, Jerome Kaino, Rieko Ioane, Sonny Bill Williams and Matt Duffie will start in the match with Patrick Tuipulotu to join in the second half.

Ofa joins Alex Hodgman in the front row with hooker James Parsons returning for his first action of the season, as will Scott Scrafton who starts at lock with Josh Goodhue.

Captain Augustine Pulu starts at scrumhalf inside Bryn Gatland who will guide a powerful backline that includes Sonny Bill, Rieko and Matt. This group will play the first half only with a new combination to play the second half.

Coach Tana Umaga said the starting group had all trained well last week while the Tens team was in Brisbane, and he is pleased to see a number of players back after niggling injuries.

"The experienced players have merged into the squad seamlessly and have worked very hard, and it is also good to see a number of players back training fully after some time out with injuries," said Tana.

"This is our last hit out before Super Rugby so it is an important game for us to test our systems and our combinations. We will give most of the squad the opportunity to put their hands up for consideration for our first Super game."

Umaga said while it was great to win the Brisbane Global Tens title, his squad have immediately switched their attention to the upcoming Super Rugby season.

"We are excited to transfer the hard work on the practice field, in the gym and in our planning into the game situation.

"As a group we are also excited to support the Mahurangi club and take this game to Warkworth where our North Harbour and Northland fans can more easily come and watch us."

Hurricanes head coach Chris Boyd has named 32 players to take part in the match at Warkworth, just a day before the squad departs for South Africa for their opening Super Rugby match against the Bulls.

Boyd stressed the importance of carrying on that momentum when they face the Blues.

"As a coaching unit we were really pleased with the decision making the players showed in Greymouth," he said.

"While we were also delighted with how the group progressed through the Global Rugby Tens tournament, it was also really pleasing to return to New Zealand and get such positive reports about the work the remaining squad had put in.

"Hopefully we will be able to continue that progress against the Blues who have already shown that they are progressing nicely in 2018."

New Hurricanes recruit Ihaia West starts at first five-eighth with Beauden Barrett set to join the squad to face the Bulls in Pretoria.

The pre-season match also provides an ideal opportunity for the coaching group to gauge the progress of a number of players before they leave New Zealand.

Blues first-half team: 15 Melani Nanai, 14 Matt Duffie or Jordan Trainor, 13 TJ Faiane, 12 Sonny Bill Williams, 11 Rieko Ioane, 10 Bryn Gatland, 9 Augustine Pulu (captain), 8 Jimmy Tupou, 7 Dalton Papalii, 6 Jerome Kaino, 5 Scott Scrafton, 4 Josh Goodhue, 3 Ofa Tu’ungafasi, 2 James Parsons, 1 Alex Hodgman.

Blues second-half team: 15 Jordan Trainor, 14 Tamati Tua, 13 Orbyn Leger, 12 TJ Faiane, 11 Jordan Hyland, 10 Daniel Kirkpatrick, 9 Jonathan Ruru, 8 Akira Ioane, 7 Murphy Taramai, 6 Glenn Preston, 5 Gerard Cowley-Tuioti, 4 Patrick Tuipulotu, 3 Sione Mafileo, 2 Leni Apisai, 1 Pauliasi Manu.

Replacements: Mike Tamoaieta, Ross Wright, Jacob Pierce, Sione Havili, Sam Nock, George Moala.

Hurricanes: 15 Matt Proctor, 14 Julian Savea, 13 Vince Aso, 12 Ngani Laumape, 11 Wes Goosen, 10 Ihaia West, 9 TJ Perenara, 8 Gareth Evans, 7 Ardie Savea, 6 Brad Shields, 5 Vaea Fifita, 4 Sam Lousi, 3 Ben May, 2 Ricky Riccitelli, 1 Toby Smith
Replacements: Asafo Aumua, James O'Reilly, Alex Fidow, Chris Eves, Fraser Armstrong, Murray Douglas, James Blackwell, Michael Fatialofa, Sam Henwood, Reed Prinsep, Blade Thomson, Jamie Booth, Jackson Garden-Bachop, Chase Tiatia, Ben Lam, Jonah Lowe, Trent Renata.

Date: Thursday, February 15
Venue: Mahurangi Rugby Club, Warkworth A&P Showgrounds 
Kick-off: 16.00 (03.00 GMT)
Referee: TBC

 

There are currently no matches being played
FIXTURE GMT VENUE
Sat, 24 February 2018
Sunwolves v Brumbies 04h15 Tokyo
Crusaders v Chiefs 06h35 Christchurch
Waratahs v Stormers 08h45 Allianz Park
Treviso v Connacht 12h00 Stadio Monigo
Lions v Jaguares 13h05 Johannesburg
Exeter Chiefs v Northampton Saints 14h00 Sandy Park
Ireland v Wales 14h15 Aviva Stadium
Harlequins v Newcastle Falcons 14h30 Twickenham Stoop
Gloucester v Wasps 14h30 Kingsholm
Bath v Sale Sharks 14h30 Recreation Ground
Bulls v Hurricanes 15h15 Loftus Versfeld
Scotland v England 16h45 BT Murrayfield
Ospreys v Cheetahs 17h30 Liberty Stadium
Scarlets v Ulster 19h35 Parc y Scarlets
Sun, 25 February 2018
Zebre v Cardiff Blues 13h00 Stadio Sergio Lanfranchi
London Irish v Worcester Warriors 13h00 Madejski Stadium
Saracens v Leicester Tigers 15h30 Allianz Park
Fri, 02 March 2018
Blues v Chiefs 06h35 Eden Park
Reds v Brumbies 09h00 Suncorp Stadium
Kings v Dragons 17h35 Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium
Edinburgh v Munster 19h35 Myreside
Cardiff Blues v Treviso 19h35 Cardiff Arms Park
Ulster v Glasgow Warriors 19h35 Kingspan Stadium
Harlequins v Bath 19h45 Twickenham Stoop
Sat, 03 March 2018
Sunwolves v Rebels 22h00 Tokyo
RESULT SCORE
Fri, 23 February 2018
France v Italy 34 | 17
Leinster v Kings 64 | 7
Dragons v Edinburgh 12 | 25
Munster v Glasgow Warriors 21 | 10
Rebels v Reds 45 | 19
Highlanders v Blues 41 | 34
Mon, 19 February 2018
NWU-Pukke v UJ 18 | 15
Maties v CUT-Ixias 75 | 12
UCT-Ikeys v Shimlas 27 | 32
NMMU-Madibaz v Wits 29 | 32
Sun, 18 February 2018
Dragons v Treviso 15 | 18
Wasps v Exeter Chiefs 13 | 7
Sat, 17 February 2018
Cardiff Blues v Munster 25 | 18
Lions v Sharks 26 | 19
Leinster v Scarlets 20 | 13
SUPER RUGBY
MORE LOGS
Pool AU
Team P W D L Pts
Rebels 1 1 0 0 5
Brumbies 0 0 0 0 0
Waratahs 0 0 0 0 0
Sunwolves 0 0 0 0 0
Reds 1 0 0 1 0
Pool NZ
Team P W D L Pts
Highlanders 1 1 0 0 4
Blues 1 0 0 1 1
Crusaders 0 0 0 0 0
Hurricanes 0 0 0 0 0
Chiefs 0 0 0 0 0
Pool SA
Team P W D L Pts
Stormers 1 1 0 0 4
Lions 1 1 0 0 4
Sharks 1 0 0 1 1
Bulls 0 0 0 0 0
Jaguares 1 0 0 1 0