The Blues, sitting on 26 points, are only 3 shy of the top eight. It’s a tough run in for the Blues, however, who have away matches against the Reds and Hurricanes still to come, plus a home game against the South African conference-leading Bulls
“We have had the same approach every game and that is to strive to produce quality performances and to improve every week,” said coach Leon MacDonald.
“If you put on a performance of quality over 80 minutes, then positive results are likely to follow, and we are getting closer to achieving that.
“We know that we will need to be at our very best against the Crusaders. Just like the people of the region, they know how to dig deep in times of adversity, and so we know what to expect.”
This weekend sees the return of young flanker Tom Robinson to the starting team. The man he replaces, Dalton Papali’i, sits out the match due to a head knock suffered against the Chiefs. Robinson was earmarked earlier in the season as a potential All Blacks bolter but has had little game-time in the last few weeks due to injury.
The only other change to the run-on side that ended an eight-year losing streak against the Chiefs last weekend is Leni Apisai coming in at hooker for just his second start of the season. Stalwart James Parsons drops to the bench.
Karl Tu’inukuafe sits out for a second week in a row due to illness.
Blues: Melani Nanai, Caleb Clarke, TJ Faiane, Ma’a Nonu, Rieko Ioane, Harry Plummer, Jonathan Ruru, Akira Ioane, Blake Gibson, Tom Robinson, Scott Scrafton, Patrick Tuipulotu, Ofa Tu’ungafasi, Leni Apisai, Alex Hodgman. Reserves: James Parsons, Marcel Renata, Lua Li, Gerard Cowley-Tuioti, Hoskins Sotutu, Augustine Pulu, Otere Black, Levi Aumua.
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