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Ex-All Black compares Blues vs Chiefs final to State of Origin’s ‘hatred’

By Finn Morton
Blues captain Patrick Tuipulotu (R) and Chiefs captain Luke Jacobson (L) pose with the Super Rugby Pacific Trophy during the Super Rugby Pacific Grand Final media opportunity at Eden Park, on June 21, 2024, in Auckland, New Zealand. (Photo by Phil Walter/Getty Images)

Rugby World Cup-winning All Black Richard Kahui has compared the upcoming Super Rugby Pacific Grand Final between the Blues and Chiefs to Australia’s iconic State of Origin matchup between Queensland and New South Wales.

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For those who live in Australia or consider themselves fans of rugby league, you know just how intense those three matches are every year. It dominates the sporting cycle along the east coast as fans and former players alike ruthlessly express their hatred for the rival state.

It’s a sensational sporting product that captures an incredibly large audience, but the good news for rugby union is Super Rugby Pacific might have its Origin-esque rivalry on show with silverware on the line this weekend.

The Chiefs were beaten in last year’s decider in Hamilton and they have an almighty task waiting for them at Eden Park on Saturday as they look to go one better in 2024. But the Blues won’t be lacking in motivation as they look to return to the top.

Head-to-Head

Last 5 Meetings

Wins
4
Draws
0
Wins
1
Average Points scored
27
14
First try wins
80%
Home team wins
80%

Richard Kahui has not only talked up the rivalry between the two teams in the leadup to the clash, but the former Chiefs midfielder has also previewed the Grand Final as a genuine battle for “30 players on the pitch” to impress national selectors.

“It’s going to be a great weekend. I think, like you said, a sellout,” the former All Blacks winger said on SENZ’s Th Run Home with Kirst & Beav.

“Chiefs-Blues is as close as you get to State of Origin in terms of intensity, intensity of hatred –  I know it’s a strong word.

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“I cannot wait for the weekend and I think there’s 30 players on the pitch that are all a good crack at making that All Blacks squad because there’s some talent out there.”

All Black Patrick Tuipulotu has somehow recovered from a knee injury to lead the Blues into battle on Saturday evening. This is a side that boasts world-class quality, too, including the likes of Dalton Papali’i and Rieko Ioane.

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As for the visitors, they’ll look to star first five-eighth Damian McKenzie to steer them to glory. Blues No. 10 Harry Plummer, who will line up opposite ‘D Mac’ in the big dance praised his rival as a “freakish talent” on another SENZ show this week.

McKenzie joins Cortez Ratima in the halves, while Shaun Stevenson returns to the No. 15 jumper out the back. Stevenson debuted for the All Blacks in a thrilling Bledisloe Cup win over the Wallabies in Dunedin and has been knocking at the door for a recall.

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“You can have a mixture of your guys who are out-and-out wingers like your (Mark) Tele’a’s, your (Emoni) Narawa’s,” Kahui explained.

“Then you can have guys like maybe a Shaun Stevenson who can play wing-fullback. I would like to see him be somewhere in the mix. I think he’s pushed pretty hard this year.

“We’re spoilt for choice for the outside backs when you look at what’s on show this weekend. If both team’s forwards can get any go-forward at all, it should be a bloody exciting Grand Final.”

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finn 6 hours ago
Ireland and South Africa share the same player development dilemma

What a difference 9 months makes! Last autumn everyone was talking about how important versatile bench players were to SA’s WC win, now we’re back to only wanting specialists? The timing of this turn is pretty odd when you consider that some of the best players on the pitch in the SA/Ireland match were Osbourne (a centre playing out of position at 15), Feinberg-Mngomezulu (a fly-half/centre playing out of position at 15), and Frawley (a utility back). Having specialists across the backline is great, but its not always necessary. Personally I think Frawley is unlikely to displace Crowley as first choice 10, but his ability to play 12 and 15 means he’s pretty much guaranteed to hold down a spot on the bench, and should get a decent amount of minutes either at the end of games or starting when there are injuries. I think Willemse is in a similar boat. Feinberg-Mngomezulu possibly could become a regular starter at 10 for the Springboks, but he might not, given he’d have to displace Libbok and Pollard. I think its best not to put all your eggs in one basket - Osbourne played so well at the weekend that he will hopefully be trusted with the 15 shirt for the autumn at least, but if things hadn’t gone well for him he could have bided his time until an opportunity opened up at centre. Similarly Feinberg-Mngomezulu is likely to get a few opportunities at 15 in the coming months due to le Roux’s age and Willemse’s injury, but given SA don’t have a single centre aged under 30 its likely that opportunities could also open up at 12 if he keeps playing there for Stormers. None of this will discount him from being given gametime at 10 - in the last RWC cycle Rassie gave a start at 10 to Frans Steyn, and even gave de Klerk minutes there off the bench - but it will give him far more opportunities for first team rugby.

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