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Caleb Clarke set for milestone match as Blues unveil team for season opener

By Finn Morton
Caleb Clarke with the ball in hand for the Blues in Cross-Border rugby action, Japan. Photo by Kenta Harada/Getty Images

New Zealand internationals Caleb Clarke and Angus Ta’avao will reach club milestones on Saturday afternoon when the Blues take on Fijian Drua in the opening round of the new season.


Clarke and Ta’avao have both been named to start in their 50th matches in Blues colours while lock Josh Beehre will debut in his hometown of Whangarei.

The trio form part of the Blues’ First XV for Round One of the new Super Rugby Pacific season, with the team including eight All Blacks in total.

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“Naturally, I’m excited to make my debut, seeing my name up on the screen at the team meeting was a bit of a buzz for sure,” Beehre said in a statement.


“I went to school at Whangarei Boys and I remember going to a Blues game in Whangarei when I was young, so for this to come full circle is pretty surreal.

“Hopefully the locals get down to Semenoff Stadium to watch the boys put on a show this weekend.”

Debutant Beehre will pack down alongside Sam Darry in the second-row, while the formidable trio of Joshua Fusitu’a, Kurt Eklund and milestone man Ta’avao make up the rest of the tight five.


Anton Segner joins All Blacks Dalton Papali’i and Hoskins Sotutu in the loose forwards.

“It’s cool, this is the club I looked up to when I was young. I’m an Auckland boy born and bred and I wanted to play for the Blues as a young kid,” Ta’avao said.

“My family has put up with a lot for me to be here. I wouldn’t be here without them.”

In the backs, capped All Blacks Finlay Christie and Stephen Perofeta will link as part of a lethal halves combination, and the players outside of the pair as equally as dangerous.

Playmaker Harry Plummer joins Rieko Ioane in the halves, while Caleb Clarke, Mark Tele’a and Zarn Sullivan make up the rest of the starting side.


There are also two potential debutants on the bench with lock Laghlan McWhannell and outside back Cole Forbes getting the nod from coach Vern Cotter.

The match between the Blues and Fijian Drua kicks off at 4:35 pm NZT at Whangarei’s Semenoff Stadium.

Blues team to take on Fijian Drua

  1. Joshua Fusitu’a
  2. Kurt Eklund
  3. Angus Ta’avao (50th Blues appearance)
  4. Sam Darry
  5. Josh Beehre (Blues debut)
  6. Anton Segner
  7. Dalton Papali’i
  8. Hoskins Sotutu
  9. Finlay Christie
  10. Stephen Perofeta
  11. Caleb Clarke (50th Blues appearance)
  12. Harry Plummer
  13. Rieko Ioane
  14. Mark Tele’a
  15. Zarn Sullivan


  1. Ricky Riccitelli
  2. Jordan Lay
  3. Marcel Renata
  4. Laghlan McWhannell (potential Blues debut)
  5. Adrian Choat
  6. Sam Nock
  7. AJ Lam
  8. Cole Fobes (potential Blues debut)

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