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Akira Ioane to miss Blues' 'challenge' against the Brumbies

By Finn Morton
Hoskins Sotutu, Akira Ioane of the Blues look on ahead of the round one Super Rugby Pacific match between Highlanders and Blues at Forsyth Barr Stadium, on February 25, 2023, in Dunedin, New Zealand. (Photo by Joe Allison/Getty Images)

The Blues will be without star flanker Akira Ioane will then run out to Melbourne’s AAMI Park to take on the Brumbies in a highly anticipated semi-final rematch on Sunday afternoon.

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Ioane will miss the round two clash after injuring his knee in last Saturday’s 60-20 win over the Highlanders at Dunedin’s Forsyth Barr Stadium.

The Blues will take on Australian heavyweights the Brumbies at 4:00pm NZT, in the final match of the Super Round weekend.

All 12 Super Rugby Pacific teams will play out of the same venue at Melbourne’s AAMI Park over three nights, starting with the Crusaders versus the Highlanders on Friday.

The Brumbies will undoubtedly be hungry for revenge following tehri thrilling loss in last year’s semi-final at Eden Park.

Blues captain Dalton Papali’i is confident that his team are well prepared “to meet that challenge” against the Brumbies.

“You can’t stand still in this competition, otherwise teams will run straight past you,” Papali’i said in a statement.

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“We know the Brumbies will bring a physical, confronting game and we have been preparing all week to meet that challenge.”

The Blues have made four changes to their starting XV ahead of the round two clash, and they’re all in the forward pack.

Blues coach Leon MacDonald has selected a new-look front row of Joshua Fusitu’a, Ricky Riccitelli and James Lay.

“All three front rowers deserve their starts this week which double as an opportunity to put their hand up in a hotly contested area of the park for us,” MacDonald said.

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“I’m looking forward to seeing how this front row gel on Sunday.”

As for the second-row, last week’s partnership of Patrick Tuipulotu and Cameron Suafoa have been named in the starting side once again.

Fan favourite Tom Robinson has been named for his Super Rugby Pacific return, although he has been bracketed alongside flanker Adria Choat.

Either Robinson or Choat will replace the injured Ioane in the No. 6 jersey.

“You never want to see players get injured and it’s an unfortunate blow for Akira this early in the season, but he’s working with our medical staff on a rehab program to get him back and fit,” MacDonald added.

“It’s great to have several options at loose forward and we’ll make a call on Tom and Adrian closer to Sunday with both players making the trip to Melbourne.”

The backline remains unchanged, with Finlay Christie and Beauden Barrett set to take the playmaking reins once again the halves.

Roger Tuivasa-Sheck and Rieko Ioane will start in the midfield once again, the outside backs will also look to repeat last weekend’s heroics – especially Mark Telea.

Blues team to take on the Brumbies:

  1. Joshua Fusitu’a
  2. Ricky Riccitelli
  3. James Lay
  4. Patrick Tuipulotu
  5. Cameron Suafoa
  6. Tom Robinson (Adrian Choat)
  7. Dalton Papali’i
  8. Hoskins Sotutu
  9. Finlay Christie
  10. Beauden Barrett
  11. Caleb Clarke
  12. Roger Tuivasa-Sheck
  13. Rieko Ioane
  14. Mark Telea
  15. Stephen Perofeta

 

Replacements:

  1. Kurt Eklund
  2. Ofa Tu’ungafasi
  3. Marcel Renata
  4. James Tucker
  5. Adrian Choat (Anton Segner)
  6. Taufa Funaki
  7. Bryce Heem
  8. Jacob Ratumaitavuki-Kneepkens

 

Unavailable: Sam Darry (knee), Akira Ioane (knee), AJ Lam (illness), Sam Nock (calf), Harry Plummer (ribs)

-Press release/Blues

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