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Blues boast wealth of experience in 2024 squad

By Ned Lester
(Photo by Daniel Pockett/Getty Images)

The Blues are without the services of some experienced campaigners in 2024, but a new coaching group led by Vern Cotter looks to set the team in a new direction with new leaders.

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Beauden Barrett’s absence has left the keys to Auckland’s attack in the ignition and it will be up to Zarn Sullivan to challenge three-time All Black Stephen Perofeta for the driver’s seat.

Angus Ta’avao relocates to Auckland after six years with the Chiefs where he earned All Blacks honours but has been sidelined with injury for much of the past 18 months.

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Ta’avao’s return softens the blow of losing Nepo Laulala, while Ofa Tu’ungafasi is on contract for one more season.

A big storyline this upcoming season will be the response of Hoskins Sotutu, who after a couple of seasons playing Ardie Savea’s understudy with the All Blacks was dumped unceremoniously out of both All Blacks and All Blacks XV favour earlier in the year.

The promise of a fresh start within the national team under incoming coach Scott Robertson will present many players with the extra drive for a career year in 2024. However, Sotutu will have to change the mind of forwards coach Jason Ryan who is the one coach to remain from Ian Foster’s staff.

The short-lived prospect of the team moving away from New Zealand rugby’s spiritual home, Eden Park, has been put to rest as the Blues announced they will remain at the venue for the next two seasons.

“Nothing beats the start of a new season; I’m looking forward to getting the guys in and taking a look under the hood. We’ve done plenty of planning and preparation in the background and now we’re ready to rip into it on the grass,” said Cotter.

“We’ve got a wealth of Super Rugby experience in this squad, players who have been there and done the business for several seasons. I’m excited for what 2024 holds and if we can get on the same page as a collective, we should be competing at the pointy end of the season.”

Josh Beehre, Laghlan McWhannell, PJ Sheck and James Thompson join Ta’avao as newcomers in the forwards, while Kade Banks, Lucas Cashmore, Cole Forbes and Meihana Grindlay join the ranks as backline depth.

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Josh Beehre (Auckland, 0)
Adrian Choat (Auckland, 32)
Sam Darry (Canterbury, 23)
Kurt Eklund (BOP, 51)
Joshua Fusitu’a (Auckland, 6)
Akira Ioane (Auckland, 106)
Jordan Lay (Auckland, 20)
Laghlan McWhannell (Waikato, 0)
Dalton Papali’i (Counties Manakau, 68)
Marcel Renata (Auckland, 38)
Ricky Riccitelli (Taranaki, 24)
Rob Rush (Northland, 1)
Anton Segner (Tasman, 16)
PJ Sheck (Wellington, 0)
Hoskins Sotutu (Counties Manakau, 50)
Cameron Suafoa (North Harbour, 18)
Angus Ta’avao (Auckland, 49)
James Thompson (Counties Manakau, 0)
Patrick Tuipulotu (Auckland, 99)
Ofa Tu’ungafasi (Northland, 136)
Soane Vikena (Auckland, 18)

Kade Banks (North Harbour, 0)
Lucas Cashmore (BOP, 0)
Finlay Christie (Tasman, 45)
Caleb Clarke (Auckland, 49)
Corey Evans (Auckland, 6)
Cole Forbes (BOP, 0)
Taufa Funaki (Auckland, 13)
Meihana Grindlay (Taranaki, 0)
Bryce Heem (Auckland, 33)
Rieko Ioane (Auckland, 101)
AJ Lam (Auckland, 29)
Sam Nock (Northland, 63)
Stephen Perofeta (Taranaki, 57)
Harry Plummer (Auckland, 58)
Zarn Sullivan (Auckland, 32)
Caleb Tangitau (Auckland, 1)
Mark Tele’a (North Harbour, 52)

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Comments

1 Comment
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Andrew 219 days ago

Tavao is a powder puff prop. Better suited to commentating

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