Double injury blow for Blues
INJURY UPDATE: The Blues will be without the services of two of their key players for the upcoming fortnight as Sonny Bill Williams and Blake Gibson have been ruled out due to injury.
Both players have been sidelined with knee injuries, and will miss two important New Zealand derby clashes against the Chiefs in Hamilton this Saturday and the Highlanders in Dunedin next week.
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Williams, the squad’s vice-captain, and Gibson, the squad’s co-captain alongside lock Patrick Tuipulotu, have had limited appearances for the Blues due to both form and injury.
Williams has started just twice from seven matches this season, making a further four outings from off the bench, with fellow centre Ma’a Nonu often being the preferred option by coach Leon MacDonald.
He captained the side for the first time against the Sunwolves during their 28-20 win in Albany last month, but missed their next clash against the Highlanders in Auckland due to the Christchurch terrorist attacks.
Gibson, who has struggled with injuries throughout the entirety of his four-year Blues career, missed his side’s opening three fixture of the season due to an ankle injury sustained in a pre-season match against the Chiefs, before returning to the starting lineup for the Sunwolves clash.
He went on to start at openside flank in the ensuing three matches against the Highlanders, Stormers and Waratahs, but this most recent knock will be a frustrating blow for the injury-plagued 23-year-old.
The Blues are enjoying one of their most successful season in recent times, currently lying in 5th place as they chase their first play-offs appearance since 2011.
After losing their first three matches on the trot, they have secured four consecutive wins in as many weeks, and will be looking push for a spot in the top four with a win at Waikato Stadium this weekend.
*Meanwhile, there were some good news as several players committed their future to the franchise.
Star rookie Tom Robinson, along with Franchise stalwart and former captain James Parsons promising midfielder TJ Faiane, young prop Sione Mafileo, and first-five duo Otere Black and Stephen Perofeta all singed on until at least the 2021 season.
20-year-old wing Caleb Clarke, who starred at last year’s Brisbane 10s tournament and is the son of ex-All Black Eroni, has also committed himself to the side until 2022.