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Blues re-sign four key players ahead of Super Rugby Pacific

By Alex McLeod

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The Blues have re-signed four key players as they look to clinch back-to-back titles in next year’s inaugural Super Rugby Pacific.

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The Super Rugby Trans-Tasman champions have secured lock Josh Goodhue and first-five Stephen Perofeta for an extra year, while utility forward Tom Robinson and playmaker Harry Plummer have re-signed until 2023.

By keeping both Plummer and Perfoeta onboard, the Blues remain well-equipped at first-five with All Blacks star Beauden Barrett set to return to the franchise next year after his season-long sabbatical with Suntory Sungoliath in Japan.

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Sam Cane sets target on building back into All Blacks game time after long injury lay-off
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Sam Cane sets target on building back into All Blacks game time after long injury lay-off

The presence of the trio will offset the departure of Otere Black to the Shining Arcs in the Top League, a move that means Plummer and Perofeta are expected to play prominent back-up roles to Barrett.

A former New Zealand Schools and New Zealand U20 representative, Plummer is the most experienced of the re-signed quartet, having played in every Super Rugby match for the Blues in his three seasons at the franchise.

That statistic is indicative that Plummer will continue to feature strongly for the Blues, although he is likely to face strong competition from Perofeta, who debuted for the Blues against the Reds in Samoa as a teenager in 2017.

The former schoolboy star, who played for Whanganui and the Heartland XV while still in Year 13, then started in the Blues’ famous win over the British and Irish Lions before going on to help New Zealand win the World U20 Championship in Georgia, all in the space of a few weeks.

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Since then, Perofeta has accrued 30 caps for the Blues as a first-five or fullback, with injury halting his development in recent times.

Robinson, meanwhile, has been tipped to break into the All Blacks squad in two of the past three years due to his high-energy showings for the Blues, either as a lock or at blindside flanker, but injuries have derailed his test prospects.

Nevertheless, the 27-year-old remains an option for higher honours if he can get the most out of himself over the course of the next two years.

Goodhue, meanwhile, is the twin brother of injured All Blacks midfielder Jack, and has been a crucial figure in the Blues set-up since his debut against the Hurricanes four years ago.

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A regular of the match day squad, Goodhue has chalked up 38 appearances for the franchise in that timeframe and will look to notch his 50th cap by the end of next season.

The absence of All Blacks second rower Patrick Tuipulotu, who has joined Toyota Verblitz on a season-long sabbatical, from next year’s Blues squad adds importance to the retention of both Robinson and Goodhue.

Blues head coach Leon MacDonald said he was “delighted” that the franchise has been able to retain the quartet, which he described as “vital” to his side’s chances of success.

“These four players are all incredibly important for our team on and off the field,” said coach Leon MacDonald.

“They are still young but now experienced Super Rugby players with a significant number of games under their belts.

“They are now seniors who will continue to have a growing influence on this team as players and as leaders.

“They go about their business in such a professional manner. They are a vital cog in the Blues machine and I am delighted they have all decided to extend their stay.”

The re-signings of Plummer, Perofeta, Robinson and Goodhue come a matter of days after it was announced that All Blacks props Karl Tu’inukuafe and Alex Hodgman had also signed contract extensions with the Blues.

2021-22 Blues transfers

In: Beauden Barrett (Suntory Sungoliath), Roger Tuivasa-Sheck (New Zealand Warriors), Ricky Riccitelli (Hurricanes)

Out: Patrick Tuipulotu (Toyota Verblitz), Otere Black (NTT Communications Shining Arcs), TJ Faiane (Hino Red Dolphins), Gerard Cowley-Tuioti (Kobelco Steelers), Blake Gibson (Hurricanes), Ray Niuia (released), Jacob Pierce (Toshiba Brave Lupus)

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Blues re-sign four key players ahead of Super Rugby Pacific

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