Barrett returns for Waratahs quarterfinal

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Barrett returns after nursing a cut to his heel suffered against the Reds in Brisbane and slots back in at 10, joined by another returnee - in-form midfielder Bryce Heem.

Wing Caleb Clarke hasn’t recovered from his leg complaint meaning AJ Lam will start on the left wing for the match.

Captain Dalton Papalii is back at openside flanker, Akira Ioane on the blindside and Hoskins Sotutu completes the loose forward trio after a week off.

Versatile Tom Robinson moves from loose forward to lock this week to partner James Tucker in the middle of the scrum.

Blues Head Coach, Leon MacDonald, said the team are ready for knockout rugby.

“We were in early this week to get clarity for what we want to achieve against the Waratahs,” said MacDonald.

“What’s happened in the regular season means nothing on Friday night. Knockout footy brings a special kind of intensity, it’s where we learn about players under pressure and we’re looking forward to putting on a performance for our home fans, our friends and families.” 

MacDonald was also wary of a wounded Waratahs side.

“You never want to face a team after a loss, they will be hurting and out to spoil our party at Eden Park. We’ve seen when they put it together, they’re a very dangerous outfit so we need to show up on Friday night prepared for a battle.”

Captain Papalii said the team have narrowed their focus this week and are prepared to defend their home turf.

“It’s a simple equation in front of us – win and we advance. That’s all we want from this match and all we expect of ourselves. Finals footy brings out a different beast, you play for these big matches and big moments and the team are ready to stand up.”

Hooker Kurt Eklund is poised to make his 50th Blues appearance off the bench in the Quarter Final, a player both MacDonald and Papalii heaped praise on.

“Kurt’s a top team man, a hard worker and a great bloke to have around the place. To notch up 50 games for the club is an achievement he should be really proud of,” said MacDonald.

“I’m stoked for my mate Kurty-E - 50 games is a great effort,” said Papalii.

“He’s an honest worker, he holds up our standards as a team and the boys will be gunning to put on a strong performance for him in a milestone match.”

QUARTERFINAL: Blues v NSW Waratahs, Friday 9 June, 7.35pm, Eden Park. TICKETS.


1 Ofa Tuungafasi
2 Ricky Riccitelli
3 Nepo Laulala
4 Tom Robinson
5 James Tucker     
6 Akira Ioane
7 Dalton Papalii (c)
8 Hoskins Sotutu
9 Finlay Christie
10 Beauden Barrett
11 AJ Lam
12 Bryce Heem
13 Rieko Ioane
14 Mark Telea
15 Zarn Sullivan

Reserves: Kurt Eklund, Jordan Lay, Marcel Renata, Cameron Suafoa, Anton Segner, Sam Nock, Harry Plummer, Stephen Perofeta

Players not considered:
Adrian Choat (shoulder), Caleb Clarke (leg), Sam Darry (arm, season), Alex Hodgman (shoulder, season), Tanielu Telea (knee), Patrick Tuipulotu (arm, season)


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