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All Blacks duo set to return for Blues’ blockbuster clash with Brumbies

By Finn Morton
Mark Tele'a of the Blues is tackled during the round four Super Rugby Pacific match between NSW Waratahs and Blues at Allianz Stadium, on March 16, 2024, in Sydney, Australia. (Photo by Brett Hemmings/Getty Images)

All Blacks Patrick Tuipulotu and Mark Tele’a are back in the mix for the Blues in time for their blockbuster derby against the high-flying ACT Brumbies at Eden Park on Saturday night.


The Blues and Brumbies sit in the top four on the Super Rugby Pacific standings so a loss for either side could have a major say in the race for home playoff spots.

Coach Vern Cotter has made four changes to the staring side after the big win over the Western Force a fortnight ago, which includes the return of team captain Patrick Tuipulotu.

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Tuipulotu is set for his third appearance of the season after taking the field against the Crusaders in round five and Moana Pasifika one week later.


Last 5 Meetings

Average Points scored
First try wins
Home team wins

The return of the All Blacks lock and wing Mark Tele’a, who is looking to add to his five try tally this season, is a major boost for the Blues ahead of this tough task.

“Clearly the Brumbies are tracking really well this season, they’ve been impressive both offensively and defensively and will be a handful on Saturday at Eden Park,” coach Cotter said in a statement.

“We’re locked together on points, we’ve won the same number of games and whoever wins on Saturday will claim outright second on the points table – it’s a big match there’s no doubt about that.”


Marcel Renata also comes into the starting side at tighhead prop and Bryce Heem at inside centre as the only other two changes to the Blues’ First XV.

Ofa Tu’ungafasi and Ricky Riccitelli will pack down with Renata in the front-row, while Tuipulotu joins Laghlan McWhannell to round out the tight give.

All Blacks Akira Ioane, Dalton Papali’i and Hoskins Sotutu will be the loose forward trio once again this weekend.

Taufa Funaki has retained his spot at halfback with New Zealand international Finlay Christie unavailable due to a groin complaint. Funaki will link up with Harry Plummer in the halves.


Bryce Heem joins Rieko Ioane in the midfield, while Caleb Clarke, Mark Tele’a and Cole Forbes are the outside backs.

Gates open at 5:30 pm NZT with the match getting underway less than two hours later at 7:05 pm at Auckland’s Eden Park.

Blues team to take on ACT Brumbies

  1. Ofa Tu’ungafasi
  2. Ricky Riccitelli
  3. Marcel Renata
  4. Patrick Tuipulotu (c)
  5. Laghlan McWhannell
  6. Akira Ioane
  7. Dalton Papali’i
  8. Hoskins Sotutu
  9. Taufa Funaki
  10. Harry Plummer
  11. Caleb Clarke
  12. Bryce Heem
  13. Rieko Ioane
  14. Mark Tele’a
  15. Cole Forbes


  1. Kurt Eklund
  2. Joshua Fusitu’a
  3. Angus Ta’avao
  4. Sam Darry
  5. Adrian Choat
  6. Sam Nock
  7. Lucas Cashmore
  8. AJ Lam

Players not considered: Stephen Perofeta (shoulder), Finlay Christie (groin), Zarn Sullivan (knee), Rob Rush (calf), Cam Suafoa (sickness)


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Abe 2 hours ago
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