Blues bolster pack for Crusaders clash
TEAM ANNOUNCEMENT: Blues head coach Leon MacDonald has named his team to face the Crusaders at Eden Park on Friday.
The Blues will have all their key All Blacks back on starting duties led by captain Patrick Tuipulotu and Ofa Tuungafasi who along with James Parsons will make their first starts this season, completing a formidable front row with the in-form Karl Tu’inukuafe.
The back row remains intact from the win over the Waratahs with All Black flank Dalton Papalii joining Blake Gibson and Hoskins Sotutu, who both produced eye-catching displays in Newcastle.
The backline remains unchanged with the likes of Stephen Perofeta nearing his blazer game and dual international Matt Duffie closing in on his 50th for the Blues.
Players not considered because of injury include: Finlay Christie (neck), Gerard Cowley-Tuioti (shoulder), Jared Page (hamstring), Tanielu Tele’a (shoulder), James Tucker (knee), Alex Hodgman (calf), Ray Niuia (knee), Rieko Ioane (hand).
Blues: 15 Matt Duffie, 14 Jordan Hyland, 13 Joe Marchant, 12 TJ Faiane, 11 Mark Telea, 10 Stephen Perofeta, 9 Jonathan Ruru, 8 Hoskins Sotutu, 7 Blake Gibson, 6 Dalton Papalii, 5 Josh Goodhue, 4 Patrick Tuipulotu (captain), 3 Ofa Tuungafasi, 2 James Parsons, 1 Karl Tu’inukuafe.
Replacements: 16 Kurt Eklund, 17 Ezekiel Lindenmuth, 18 Sione Mafileo, 19 Tom Robinson, 20 Tony Lamborn, 21 Sam Nock, 22 Harry Plummer, 23 Emoni Narawa.
Date: Friday, February 14
Venue: Eden Park, Auckland
Kick-off: 19.05 (06.05 GMT)
Referee: Paul Williams (New Zealand)
Assistant referees: Brendon Pickerill (New Zealand), Angus Mabey (New Zealand)
TMO: Shane McDermott (New Zealand)
— The Blues (@BluesRugbyTeam) February 12, 2020