Blues bolstered by returning players
TEAM ANNOUNCEMENT: All Black prop Ofa Tuungafasi is set to become the eighth Blues player to reach 100 games when the team travel down SH1 to take on neighbours, the Chiefs in their Super Rugby Aotearoa clash in Hamilton on Saturday.
Tuungafasi will come off the bench on Saturday after the citing against him was dropped by the judiciary after a video hearing on Wednesday evening, following a yellow card in cleaning out Scott Barrett at the breakdown in last weekend’s game against the Crusaders.
Fellow All Black loose forward Dalton Papalii and flying wing Mark Telea will return after missing a week with head knocks while halfback Finlay Christie makes his first start of the season following time out with injury.
#⃣JUDICIAL HEARING NEWS: @BluesRugbyTeam prop @TuungafasiO has escaped sanction for his ruck clearance in the loss to the @crusadersrugby last week
🗣️It was not a red card‼️#Rugby #SuperRugbyAotearoa #BLUvCRU
— rugby365.com (@rugby365com) March 25, 2021
Bolstered by the returning players, the Blues will look to return to their winning ways after the hard-fought lose to the Crusaders.
They will be without suspended hooker Kurt Eklund but have significant depth with Auckland hooker, Leni Apisai, with 20 Super games to his credit, earning a recall after training as an injury replacement.
The backline outside Christie is virtually unchanged while there are six All Blacks in a powerful pack to take on the Chiefs, including the in-form Nepo Laulala who starts at tighthead against his former team.
Blues: 15 Stephen Perofeta, 14 Mark Telea, 13 Rieko Ioane, 12 Harry Plummer, 11 Caleb Clarke, 10 Otere Black, 9 Finlay Christie; 8 Hoskins Sotutu, 7 Dalton Papalii, 6 Akira Ioane, 5 Josh Goodhue, 4 Patrick Tuipulotu (captain), 3 Nepo Laulala, 2 Luteru Tolai, 1 Alex Hodgman.
Replacements: 16 Leni Apisai, 17 Karl Tu’inukuafe, 18 Ofa Tuungafasi, 19 Gerard Cowley-Tuioti, 20 Tom Robinson, 21 Adrian Choat, 22 Jonathan Ruru, 23 TJ Faiane.
Date: Saturday, March 27
Venue: Waikato Stadium, Hamilton
Kick-off: 19.05 (06.05 GMT)
Referee: James Doleman
Assistant referees: Paul Williams, Angus Mabey
TMO: Aaron Paterson