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Dalton Papali’i back as Blues captain in absence of injured Tuipulotu

By Finn Morton
Dalton Papali'i (L) laughs with Kurt Eklund (R) during the Blues Super Rugby Pacific training session at Blues HQ on June 14, 2023 in Auckland, New Zealand. (Photo by Fiona Goodall/Getty Images)

All Blacks flanker Dalton Papali’i will step back into the role of captain at the Blues in the absence of injured lock Patrick Tuipulotu during Super Rugby Pacific.

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Tuipulotu, who last month had been named the Blues’ captain for the upcoming season, fractured his jaw late in the Blues’ pre-season clash with Tokyo Sungoliath last weekend.

The second-rower has returned home to New Zealand and is expected to miss at least eight to 10 weeks after undergoing surgery.

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With Tuipulotu out of the mix, the Blues needed a new captain.

Head coach Vern Cotter has confirmed that Dalton Papali’i will take over the captaincy for the time being. Papali’i has experience in the role, having captained the Blues from 2022-23.

“It was a good conversation with the leadership group and the boys,” Cotter said, as reported by Newshub.

“Dalts is taking over the captaincy and leadership of the team until Paddy comes back.”

But it’s another player with the ‘c’ next to their name heading into the Blues’ second pre-season match in Japan, this one being against the Yokohama Canon Eagles.

Lock Sam Darry, just 23, will captain the Blues for the first time when a star-studded side takes on the Japanese club at Nippatsu Mitsuzawa Stadium on Saturday afternoon (4:10 pm NZT).

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Darry has been named in the second row along with Josh Beehre, while the front-row trio of Jordan Lay, Ricky Riccitelli and Marcel Renata will pack down ahead of them.

Cameron Suafoa, Anton Segner and Hoskins Sotutu round out the forward pack, while the halves duo of Taufa Funaki and Stephen Perofeta will look to unlock the potential of this Blues backline.

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All Black wing Caleb Clarke lines up on the left, Caleb Tangitau on the right, and the always-exciting Zarn Sullivan out the back. Coach Cotter has also selected Corey Evans and Meihana Grindlay in the midfield.

Blues starting team to take on Yokohama Canon Eagles

  1. Jordan Lay, 2. Ricky Riccitelli, 3. Marcel Renata, 4. Sam Darry (c), 5. Josh Beehre, 6. Cameron Suafoa, 7.Anton Segner, 8. Hoskins Sotutu, 9. Taufa Funaki, 10. Stephen Perofeta, 11. Caleb Clarke, 12. Corey Evans, 13. Meihana Grindlay, 14. Caleb Tangitau, 15. Zarn Sullivan.
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