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Beauden Barrett to reach stunning milestone when Blues take on Drua

By Finn Morton
Beauden Barrett of the Blues celebrates with Dalton Papali'i (c) of the Blues during the round seven Super Rugby Pacific match between Melbourne Rebels and Blues at AAMI Park, on April 08, 2023, in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Kelly Defina/Getty Images)

Playmaker Beauden Barrett will play his 300th first-class match on Saturday afternoon when the Blues take on the Fijian Drua in Lautoka.

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Barrett will start at flyhalf as the Blues look to end the Drua’s unbeaten run on home soil in this year’s Super Rugby Pacific season.

Blues coach Leon MacDonald has made six changes to the run-on XV for this clash, which is set to get underway at 2.05pm NZST.

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The Blues have been preparing for the “physical” clash with “heat fitness sessions” at training this week.

“We know these guys will be physical, we know the crowd will be loud and we know we’ll need to be at our best to come away with the points on Saturday,” MacDonald said in a statement.

“It’s no secret the Drua are a tough prospect at home – something we’ve already seen this Super Rugby campaign.

“We’ve tweaked a few things at training this week, including some ‘heat’ fitness sessions to simulate the conditions over there.”

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All Black Ofa Tu’ungafasi is only the front rower to have retained his position in the starting side this week.

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Marcel Renata replaces Nepo Laulala at tighthead prop, while Fijian-born hooker Soane Vikena has been given the nod for his first start in a Blues jersey.

“I’m honoured and privileged to get my first start for the Blues and to do it in Fiji makes the occasion even more special,” Vikena said.

“When I was named in the team earlier this week, I was in a bit of shock! I’m not sure I paid too much attention to the rest of the names being read out!”

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Dalton Papali’i is back at openside flanker this week, and will captain the team once again. The All Black hasn’t played since the Blues’ trip to Melbourne earlier this month.

As for the backs, Finlay Christie and Beauden Barrett will partner each other in the halves again in round 10.

Following his player of the match performance off the bench last weekend, Zarn Sullivan comes into the starting side at fullback.

The Blues are looking to become just the third time in Super Rugby history to score 50 or more points in three consecutive matches.

Captain Dalton Papali’i said the team is eager to “keep the momentum rolling” this week.

“It’s been pleasing to nail back-to-back wins,” Papali’i said. “We want to keep that momentum rolling as we head over to Fiji to take on the Dura.

“Having watched the video this week, we know the Drua have points in them, so our defence is as much a focus this match as anything else.

“We need to match them physically and that starts with us as a forward pack.

“We know it’ll be hot and humid and we’re going over there to bring out own kind of heat to the contest this Saturday.”

Blues team to take on Fijian Drua

  1. Ofa Tu’ungafasi
  2. Soane Vikena
  3. Marcel Renata
  4. Cameron Suafoa
  5. Sam Darry
  6. Adrian Choat
  7. Dalton Papali’i (c)
  8. Hoskins Sotutu
  9. Finlay Christie
  10. Beauden Barrett
  11. Caleb Clarke
  12. Harry Plummer
  13. Rieko Ioane
  14. Mark Telea
  15. Zarn Sullivan

Replacements:

  1. Ricky Riccitelli
  2. Jordan Lay
  3. James Lay
  4. James Tucker
  5. Akira Ioane
  6. Sam Nock
  7. Bryce Heem
  8. AJ Lam

Players not considered: Alex Hodgman, Nepo Laulala, Stephen Perofeta, Patrick Tuipulotu

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Shaylen 14 hours ago
Brumbies the best team in Australia but still nothing to show for it

The Brumbies have been the strongest side in Australia for a long time and that was down to their forwards and set piece which has always been good and has always been able to dominate their Australian counterparts. This year the lack of maul tries and also the lack of a stable scrum has been a real problem which was also something Nick alluded to in his article this week about the creaking brumbies tight five. Home advantage is key as you say and the Brumbies must find a way to score more bonus points. If the Brumbies are really serious about winning a title they need to do what Kiwi sides at the top do. They need to smash every Aus side with a bonus point at home while claiming losing bonus points in every game they lose and denying their rivals bonus points. In their 3 losses in NZ this year they were smashed. They only scored 60 tries which is middle of the road, their scrum came in at 73% which was one of the worst in the comp, tackle success at just 83% which was right at the bottom and in terms of metres, clean breaks, carries, offloads and rucks built they were in the middle plus they had the most yellows. They basically were just not dominant enough wile they can improve their discipline. They excelled at kicking and won plenty of lineout ball plus their rucks were secure at 97%. Not sure about turnovers but they weren’t bad there. They just need to be more clinical and give away less and they will give themselves the best chance to win the title.

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