Match details: Blues v Hurricanes, Saturday 3 April, 7.05pm, Eden Park
Referee: Brendon Pickerill
Won: Blues 17. Hurricanes 18, Drawn 1
Last match: Blues 31, Hurricanes 16 (27 February 2021)
Watch: Sky Sport (NZ) and Rugby Pass (selected international territories)
THE 30-POINT MAN
Hurricanes fullback Jordie Barrett is in career best form, coming off a Sky Super Rugby Aotearoa point-scoring record of 30 points against the Highlanders last week. Barrett is a triple threat player from the back with the ability to kick the ball deep, counterattack or set up his exciting wing partners. The Blues no doubt would have done plenty of homework during the week on how to contain Barrett, but will have to be careful not to forget about wings Salesi Rayasi or Julian Savea who are also no strangers to crossing the try-line.
DANGER UP FRONT
With excitement machines Rieko Ioane, Caleb Clarke and Mark Telea in their backline, it could be easy for the Hurricanes to focus on the threats the Blues pose out wide. But it is in the forward pack where the Blues have done the most damage this year with nine of their 15 tries being scored by the forwards. In Du’Plessis Kirifi and Reed Prinsep, the Hurricanes boast two tackle machines who will be locking forward to locking horns with the Blues potent forward pack.
Cult hero loose forward Tom Robinson will lead the Blues for the first time in place of regular skipper Patrick Tuipulotu who is out with a shoulder injury. Robinson said the captaincy was 'an awesome opportunity,' but said nothing much would change in his approach. "I'll just make sure I do what I always do. That's what they've asked me do, that's what got me here so I'll continue to do that. What will change is that while doing your own role, you are also trying to notice those little moments in the game and when things need to change," he said.
Rieko Ioane has beaten 10 defenders within his own half so far in Sky Super Rugby Aotearoa. This is more than twice as many as the Hurricanes best Salesi Rayasi with four.
15 Stephen Perofeta, 14 Mark Telea, 13 Rieko Ioane, 12 TJ Faiane, 11 Caleb Clarke, 10 Otere Black, 9 Sam Nock; 8 Hoskins Sotutu, 7 Dalton Papalii, 6 Tom Robinson (c), 5 Sam Darry, 4 Gerard Cowley-Tuioti, 3 Ofa Tuungafasi, 2 Luteru Tolai, 1 Karl Tu’inukuafe.
Reserves: 16 Leni Apisai, 17 Alex Hodgman, 18 Nepo Laulala, 19 Josh Goodhue, 20 Akira Ioane, 21 Jonathan Ruru, 22 Harry Plummer, 23 AJ Lam.
1. Fraser Armstrong 2. Dane Coles 3. Tyrel Lomax 4. James Blackwell 5. Scott Scrafton 6. Reed Prinsep 7. Du’Plessis Kirifi 8. Ardie Savea © 9. Luke Campbell 10. Orbyn Leger 11. Salesi Rayasi 12. Ngani Laumape 13. Billy Proctor 14. Julian Savea 15. Jordie Barrett
Reserves: Ricky Riccitelli, Xavier Numia, Tevita Mafileo, Isaia Walker-Leawere, Devan Flanders, Jonathan Taumateine, Peter Umaga-Jensen, Wes Goosen