Blues suffer cruel injury blow ahead of Super Rugby opener
INJURY UPDATE: The Blues will be without a key man when they open their 2019 campaign against the defending champion Crusaders at Eden Park next weekend.
Flyhalf Stephen Perofeta, who started the side’s last pre-season match against the Hurricanes, is unlikely to be available due to a chest/shoulder injury. According to the New Zealand Herald the injury will keep Perofeta sidelined for several weeks.
Fortunately, flyhalf Otere Black has shone after a long lay-off following a serious knee injury and shapes as the man to likely fill the no.10 shirt against the Crusaders next weekend.
Who will play outside Black remains a mystery. 36-year-old Ma’a Nonu looks a shoo-in after an impressive 60 minute shift at centre against the Hurricanes.
“He scored a really good try, carried hard and was aggressive in defence,” head coach Leon MacDonald said of Nonu. “He was really good actually. It was his first game in a while and he said the pace of the game was a bit different to what he had been experiencing in France, but he loved it.
“He’s a popular member of the team. At 14-0 down, he was probably the calm voice which helped keep the composure in the group; he helped us keep our focus.
Whether Nonu is flanked by TJ Faiane or Sonny Bill Williams remains to be seen, with MacDonald not giving much away.
“Sonny is a quality player and has trained really well and is available for selection,” MacDonald told The New Zealand Herald. “Ma’a’s performance – we haven’t seen him play yet and he played really well. One of the most consistent players in our whole pre-season campaign has been TJ Faiane who is carrying on his good NPC Cup form. It’s going to be a hot topic, that selection in the midfield.”
“There are some good players who have played good rugby over the last couple of weeks who are going to miss out. That’s always a tough conversation to have but it’s what we want [selection pressure].
“The midfield is obviously a key area. The front row was performed really well in the absence of [All Blacks] Karl [Tu’inukuafe] and Ofa [Tuungafasi] so there are plenty of selection headaches.”
New Zealand Herald & RugbyPass
— The Blues (@BluesRugbyTeam) February 10, 2019
RugbyPass has created a next-generation rugby rating system, based on machine learning and shaped by game-winning moments. The system (RPI) is a world first for its complexity and comprehensive embrace of northern and southern hemisphere players and teams. By using in-depth data analysis, RPI determines exactly what it takes to win, in real time. Explore the RPI now!