Blues coach Leon Macdonald has placed faith in those who narrowly lost to the ACT Brumbies in Melbourne last weekend with AJ Lam replacing Mark Telea on the right wing as the only change to the starting XV.
“Mark copped a wee head knock last weekend, so he’ll sit this one out, but it’s great to have talent like AJ waiting in the wings to replace him,” MacDonald said.
“It’s early in the competition and we know we weren’t at our best against a good Brumbies side. There’s certainly no panic around the place, we just want to see improvement in a few areas this weekend. ”
The Blues conceded almost double the amount of penalties as their opposition last weekend, something MacDonald is hoping his team can rectify against the Hurricanes.
“We’ve talked a bit this week about discipline and ensuring we’re giving ourselves a chance to build pressure and take the game to the Canes.”
The most recent match between these two sides was in the opening round of 2022 with the Hurricanes winning an enthralling, open running encounter 33-32.
Blues Captain, Dalton Papalii, said it’s always a tough battle against the Hurricanes with both teams willing to throw the ball around.
“We saw it in Round One last season and I’m sure we’ll see it again this Saturday – both teams like to play with enterprise and we’ve been preparing to shut down the threats they possess across the park,” Papalii said.
“There’s always a bit of edge at training coming off a loss and as captain I can’t fault the commitment and drive I’ve seen around Blues HQ this week.”
Both the Blues men and nib Blues women will be on show at Sky Stadium this weekend, with the women kicking off a blockbuster evening of rugby against the Hurricanes Poua at 4:35pm before the men take the field at 7:05pm.
“It’s been great to watch the women on their Aupiki journey,” said Papalii.
“I can chill and watch the first half before we head to the stadium and from what I’ve seen so far, it’s been an entertaining brand of rugby with plenty of points!”
“I know Ruahei and the team will be hoping to notch up their first win this weekend and get some momentum into their campaign.”
1. Joshua Fusitu’a
2. Ricky Riccitelli
3. James Lay
5. Cameron Suafoa
6. Tom Robinson
7. Dalton Papalii
8. Hoskins Sotutu
9. Finlay Christie
10. Beauden Barrett
11. Caleb Clarke
12. Roger Tuivasa-Sheck
13. Rieko Ioane
14. AJ Lam
15. Stephen Perofeta
16. Kurt Eklund
17. Alex Hodgman
18. Nepo Laulala
19. James Tucker
20. Adrian Choat
21. Taufa Funaki
22. Bryce Heem
23. Jacob Ratumaitavuki-Kneepkens
Players not considered: Sam Darry (knee), Akira Ioane (knee), Sam Nock (calf), Harry Plummer (ribs), Mark Telea (concussion), Ofa Tuungafasi (concussion).