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'Willing to work hard': Blues welcome back two All Blacks for Rebels clash

By Finn Morton
(Photo by Joe Allison/Getty Images)

Make no mistake, the Blues know they need to “get the points” against the Rebels at Melbourne’s AAMI Park on Saturday evening.


The Blues started their Super Rugby Pacific with a convincing 40-point win over the Highlanders in Dunedin, before losing the Brumbies in Super Round.

After six games this season, the Blues have lost three of their matches. For a team with title ambitions, their 2023 campaign hasn’t quite gone to plan so far.

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Following their loss to the ladder leading Chiefs in Hamilton last weekend, the Blues sit in fifth place on the ladder. But a loss against the Rebels could spell disaster.

Blues captain Dalton Papali’i spoke about the “standards” that the team expect of themselves ahead of their trip across the ditch.

“That’s the standards we set, that’s the standards we expecting of ourselves, we’re going to Melbourne to get the points,” Papali’i said in a statement.

“I can’t fault the boys for turning up and putting in the effort each week. If you look around, guys are going those little extras at training and looking to improve their game.


“That’s the sign of a team who are committed and willing to work hard for each other.”


The Blues have made five changes to their starting XV ahead of their clash against the Rebels at 9:45pm NZT on Saturday.

All Blacks Patrick Tuipulotu and Mark Telea are both set to return to the Blues’ run-on side this week.

Tuipulotu is set to pack down in the second row alongside Sam Darry, who is set for his second-straight start in the No. 5 jumper.

Flanker Adria Choat is set to start in the No. 6 jersey, while Germany-born talent Anton Segner shifts to the back of the scrum.


As for the backline, All Black Mark Telea is set to return on the right wing, while Zarn Sullivan has been handed his second start of the season at fullback.

“All the ingredients are there, it’s just about putting them together for 80 minutes,” assistant coach Craig McGrath said.

“Seeing the likes of Soane and Caleb come onto the bench this weekend really shows the depth of talent we have across the board.

“Soane’s been training the house down lately and deserves his crack while Caleb is young and full of energy – an exciting prospect with plenty of pace!

“I really enjoyed my time in Melbourne, it’s a great city and a place that really embraces their sports teams.

“The Rebels are playing some decent footy, especially at home, so we’ll need to turn up on Saturday night with purpose and direction.”

Blues team to take on the Rebels

  1. Jordan Lay
  2. Ricky Riccitelli
  3. Nepo Laulala
  4. Patrick Tuipulotu
  5. Sam Darry
  6. Adrian Choat
  7. Dalton Papali’i (c)
  8. Anton Segner
  9. Finlay Christie
  10. Beauden Barrett
  11. Caleb Clarke
  12. Harry Plumer

13 Rieko Ioane

  1. Mark Telea
  2. Zarn Sullivan


  1. Soane Vikena
  2. Ofa Tu’ungafasi
  3. James Lay
  4. Cameron Suafoa
  5. Tom Robinson
  6. Sam Nock
  7. Corey Evans
  8. Caleb Tangitau

Not considered: Bryce Heem, Alex Hodgman, Akira Ioane, Stephen Perofeta, Jacob Ratumaitavuki-Kneepkens, Hoskins Sotutu, Roger Tuivasa-Sheck


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1 Comment
Flatcoat 472 days ago

Why isn't Tom Robinson starting at Blindside??? A lot of talk..let's see some action...

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