Select Edition

Northern Northern
Southern Southern
Global Global
NZ NZ

Caleb Clarke returns as Blues hit 'enemy territory' for Semi Final

By Kim Ekin
Beauden Barrett leads the Blues. Photo by Hannah Peters/Getty Images

A pair of milestones for Rieko Ioane (100) and Hoskins Sotutu (50) set the stage for what promises to be an epic DHL Super Rugby Pacific Semi Final showdown as the Blues travel to Christchurch to take on the Crusaders this Friday night at 7:05 pm NZT.

Caleb Clarke returns to the left wing in a near full-strength Blues side for the Semi Final, with Head Coach Leon MacDonald showing faith in those who’ve got the team to this point in the competition.

“It’s nice to be able to show some consistency in selection at this stage of the season; the boys going out there know what they need to do,” said MacDonald.

“There’s a history of epic battles between these two sides and I’m sure Friday will be no different. The Crusaders in Christchurch is a stern test, there’s no doubt about that but it’s games like this we all look forward to.”

MacDonald is all too aware that accuracy and cool heads are required in the high-pressure cauldron of knockout Super Rugby.

“Our season has been geared towards this, we showed patience against the Waratahs, held the ball for long periods and were accurate off the tee – we want to mirror all those qualities in another knockout contest this Friday.”

MacDonald also noted the two milestone men – Ioane and Sotutu – saying both have played pivotal roles for the Blues this season.

“Congrats to Rieko and Hoskins on reaching their 100th and 50th game milestones respectively,” he said.

“Rieko has been a rock for us at centre all season and I know he’s fired up to put in a big performance on Friday night. To play 100 games for the club is testament to the hard work he puts in to keep himself fit and available for selection. He has a leadership role within this team and I’m sure he’s got plenty more appearances in blue to come.”

 “Hoskins has had a really strong season to date – his ball playing ability and work around the field make him a threat to any defence he comes up against. I know the boys want to put in a big one for both him and Rieko on Friday night.”

Blues Captain Dalton Papalii said his team had talked about relishing the opportunity to go down south and take on the Crusaders in their own backyard.

“Their record speaks for itself, they’ve never lost a finals game at home and we know we’ll have to be at our best to win this Semi Final.”

“We can take a lot of heart from the way we defended our line last time we were in Christchurch. We know we’re going down into enemy territory and are prepared to face the music. As a team we are walking towards this challenge and embracing everything that comes with being in a Semi Final – we can’t wait!”

Related

  1. Ofa Tuungafasi

  2. Ricky Riccitelli

  3. Nepo Laulala

  4. Tom Robinson

  5. James Tucker

  6. Akira Ioane

  7. Dalton Papalii (c)

  8. Hoskins Sotutu – 50th cap

  9. Finlay Christie

  10. Beauden Barrett

  11. Caleb Clarke

  12. Bryce Heem

  13. Rieko Ioane – 100th cap

  14. Mark Telea

  15. Zarn Sullivan

    Reserves:

  16. Kurt Eklund

  17. Jordan Lay

  18. Marcel Renata

  19. Cameron Suafoa

  20. Adrian Choat

  21. Sam Nock

  22. Harry Plummer

  23. Stephen Perofeta

Players not considered: Sam Darry (arm, season), Alex Hodgman (shoulder, season), Tanielu Telea (knee), Patrick Tuipulotu (arm, season)

Via Press Release/Blues

ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT

Join free

Fresh Starts | Episode 1 | Will Skelton

ABBIE WARD: A BUMP IN THE ROAD

Aotearoa Rugby Podcast | Episode 8

James Cook | The Big Jim Show | Full Episode

New Zealand victorious in TENSE final | Cathay/HSBC Sevens Day Three Men's Highlights

New Zealand crowned BACK-TO-BACK champions | Cathay/HSBC Sevens Day Three Women's Highlights

Japan Rugby League One | Steelers v Sungoliath | Full Match Replay

Rugby Europe Women's Championship | Netherlands v Spain

Trending on RugbyPass

Comments

Join free and tell us what you really think!

Sign up for free
ADVERTISEMENT

Latest Features

Comments on RugbyPass

f
finn 10 hours ago
Massive red flag raised by weakened Champions Cup teams – Andy Goode

I wonder if the problem of some teams not taking it that seriously would be helped by making performance in the champions cup count towards qualification and/or seeding in the following year’s competition. Eg. top four seeds would be winners of the URC, premiership, and top 14, plus best performing team in the previous year’s CC who have not otherwise qualified. Doing that the seedings for this years comp. would have been: Tier one: Saracens - Munster - Toulouse - la Rochelle Tier two: Sale - Stormers - Racing 92 - Leinster Tier three: Leicester - Connacht - Bordeaux - Exeter Tier four: Northampton - Ulster - Lyon - Sharks Tier five: Harlequins - Glasgow - Stade Francais - Edinburgh Tier six: Bath - Bulls - Toulon - Ospreys The competition would probably work better with fewer teams, so I’d probably favour only the first 4 tiers being invited, and then going straight to a quarter final without a round of 16. On the one hand this would possibly incentivise teams to take the champions cup seriously, and on the other it would mean that the latter stages would be more likely to involve teams that have demonstrated a willingness to take the competition seriously. The main differences between my proposed system and the actual draw is that mine would give la Rochelle a fairly easy ride to the quarters, and would either exclude the Bulls entirely or would give then an insurmountably difficult draw. As it happened Exeter got quite an easy pool draw but that was a bit of a fluke. My system would reward Exeter for being one of the teams that demonstrably devote a lot of attention to the CC by guaranteeing them a good draw.

14 Go to comments
FEATURE
FEATURE Ronan O’Gara’s latest Leinster mind game may be his best yet Ronan O’Gara’s latest Leinster mind game may be his best yet
Search