Blues named for final regular season game at Eden Park

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They host the Queensland Reds at Eden Park on Saturday at 7.05pm, with the Australian visitors fully committed as they are in a fight with the Chiefs, Waratahs and Hurricanes for the fourth place for the final home-game spot for the first round of playoffs.


Equally a win for the Blues will ensure them a top four spot with two further games to come across the Tasman against the Brumbies and Waratahs.


Loosehead prop Alex Hodgman returns from a one-game injury, set to continue his outstanding season, joining a powerful front row with hooker Kurt Eklund and All Black Ofa Tuungafasi. The standout tighthead, with 116 games for the Blues, has moved ahead of James Parsons into fourth place on the all-time Blues list behind Keven Mealamu, Tony Woodcock and Jerome Kaino.


The potent All Black trio of Akira Ioane, captain Dalton Papalii and Hoskins Sotutu are retained as the loose forwards to support a potent backline that welcomes back Beauden Barrett at first five, while in-form Stephen Perofeta moves to fullback.

While the 11-try win last week gives confidence, coach Leon MacDonald said the team needs to continue to improve.


“Last week showed if we get our preparation right and each and every player executes individually and as a team, then good things can happen.


“Nothing is automatic, so the focus has gone on the team to reset, do their homework, do the business in every training session, every day, and then focus on doing their job come game-time.


“We know this is a talented Reds team with some exciting young players. They have a very good record against us. We have won 12 and them 11 with a couple of draws, so we know they will turn up especially with so much on the line.


“This is our final regular-season game at Eden Park and the team is determined to make it a Blues performance of quality for our fans.”



The Blues team to play the Reds at Eden Park is (with Blues caps in brackets):


1. Alex Hodgman (50)

2. Kurt Eklund (33)

3. Ofa Tuungafasi (115)

4. James Tucker (8)

5. Tom Robinson (41)

6. Akira Ioane (90)

7. Dalton Papalii© (53)

8. Hoskins Sotutu (32)

9. Finlay Christie (26)

10. Beauden Barrett (13)

11. Caleb Clarke (34)

12. Roger Tuivasa-Sheck (7)

13. Rieko Ioane (82)

14. Mark Telea (34)

15. Stephen Perofeta (40)




16. Soane Vikena (11)

17. Jordan Lay (6)

18. Nepo Laulala (20)

19. Luke Romano (9)

20. Adrian Choat (15)

21. Sam Nock (47)

22. Bryce Heem (16)

23. Zarn Sullivan (14)


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