Perofeta ready to take chance in 10 jersey

GettyImages 1380037609

All Black Beauden Barrett has the game off due to All Blacks' rest requirements giving Perofeta, a player who made his Blues debut starting against the British & Irish Lions in 2017, another opportunity in his preferred position.


With his ability to also play fullback, Perofeta has grown his game while enjoying working with Barrett and building on the form that saw him named last year's NPC player of the year.


Blues assistant-coach Dan Halangahu said, "We're looking forward to seeing him out there. We've all seen what he can do when attacking the line, but he loves to be the guy who kicks the goals and takes more ownership.


"We see him almost grow his personality as he takes more responsibility for the team.


"Even when Beauden is here, Stephen has stepped up, and that's been a big part of his growth. When Stephen is involved in the game, and asserts himself, that usually means good things for us.

"We all remember that kick from the sideline against the Chiefs that put us ahead at home. Stephen chose to take that kick, and that's something he didn't do two years ago," he said.


Second five-eighths Roger Tuivasa-Sheck was continuing his growth as was seen against the Force when he produced his best effort.


"Roger is getting better with more time in the saddle," Halangahu said.


"It's a big transition, so we're trying to make it really simple around one or two decisions. When he has that clarity, we know he's a world-class athlete.


"We're also seeing him work hard on the defensive side of the game – that's where we saw his best game as well. We know it's not a complete game yet from Roger, but he's got that magic touch on the edge that can unpick things other players can't.


"We're here for long-term success with Roger. It's not about him being the best player on the field at the moment," he said.

The improved performances of Australian sides have given New Zealand teams a jolt, and the Blues had to pull out all the stops to hold off the Force in Perth in their last outing.


Halangahu said the improvements were clear among the Australians.


"They got a rude shock last year when they'd been internal and hadn't had the experience of playing against the New Zealand teams.


"This year they have seen what's coming, and some of the teams here, maybe we haven't shown the respect we should have.


"We don't make excuses, but we know it was a huge few weeks for us leading into that with the Chiefs and Crusaders away.


"There was always going to be a dip in the energy we put in, because it took a lot to come through those games.


"We're happy we've done those games and done that leg, but now we want to put in a performance that the people of this region are proud of.


"We're respecting what the Rebels have done. They're a team that's pushed sides over recent weeks and been unlucky in a number of games. They're one of the few teams who can boast about travelling across the ditch and having a win at Eden Park, so that's in the back of our memories," he said.


The Blues team to play the Rebels, with kick-off at 7.05pm on Friday, is (with Blues caps in brackets):


1. Jordan Lay (5)

2. Kurt Eklund (32)

3. Ofa Tuungafasi (115)

4. James Tucker (7)

5. Tom Robinson (40)

6. Akira Ioane (89)

7. Dalton Papalii© (52)

8. Hoskins Sotutu (31)

9. Finlay Christie (25)

10. Stephen Perofeta (39)

11. Caleb Clarke (33)

12. Roger Tuivasa-Sheck (6)

13. Rieko Ioane (81)

14. Mark Telea (33)

15. Zarn Sullivan (13)


Reserves: 16. Soane Vikena (10) 17. Karl Tu’inukuafe (37) 18. Nepo Laulala (19) 19. Sam Darry (13) 20. Adrian Choat (14) 21. Sam Nock (46) 22. Bryce Heem (15) 23. AJ Lam (16)


View all