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England midfielder set to start for Blues in final pre-season game

(Photo by Hannah Peters/Getty Images)

The Blues will have their final pre-season outing at North Harbour on Friday ahead of the Super Rugby season.

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Harbour and Takapuna Rugby Club will host the Blues and the Hurricanes in an important pre-season clash at Onewa Domain on Friday from 3pm.

It will be the first chance for Blues fans to see English International Joe Marchant who will play the first half of the game at centre.

The whole Blues squad will play on Friday with Marchant in the midfield alongside TJ Faiane who will captain the “first half” team.

Marchant was quick to thank his teammates when asked about his starting role. “Everyone’s been so friendly and welcoming since I’ve arrived.

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“It’s been a fast-paced pre-season, everything is done at top speed. It helps having such perfect conditions to train in. I was on the phone with family back home and it’s minus 1 deg and I’m on my way to training in 25 deg.”

Marchant was one of the Blues’ most surprising signings for the season, with the 23-year-old joining the Auckland-based franchise from the Harlequins club in London.

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“New Zealand has developed innovative ways to retain and invigorate our best talent, and sabbatical clauses have become one of those tools to retain our best talent long-term,” said head coach Leon MacDonald regarding Marchant’s signing.

“It’s fantastic to be part of a similar arrangement in reverse for such a promising young English player.

“Joe has impressed us on and off the field and we look forward to him joining us in January. We are confident that he will learn from his experience in Super Rugby and certainly our players, especially our young backs, will greatly appreciate learning from him.”

Local fans will welcome Harbour ‘s All Black Karl Tu’inukafe who will also play the first half, back to full fitness after off-season surgery.

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Blues: Emoni Narawa, Jordan Hyland, Joe Marchant, TJ Faiane (c), Mark Telea, Stephen Perofeta, Jonathan Ruru, Hoskins Sotutu, Tony Lamborn, Dalton Papalii, James Tucker, Aaron Carroll, Karl Tu’inukuafe, Ray Niuia, Alex Hodgman. Reserves: Luteru Tolai, Soane Vikena, Marcel Renata, Tevita Mafileo, Ezekiel Lindenmuth, Jacob Pierce, Josh Goodhue, Sam Caird, Tom Robinson, Blake Gibson, Akira Ioane, Waimana Riedlinger-Kipper, Sam Nock, Lewis Gjaltema, Harry Plummer, Tamati Tua, Matt Duffie.

– with Blues Rugby

Former Scotland international Jim Hamilton discusses the quality of players currently on show in Japan’s Top League:

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