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'Hungry and determined': Blues name star-studded side for GF rematch

By Finn Morton
(Photo by Joe Allison/Getty Images)

All Blacks Mark Telea is set to return for the Blues this weekend when they take on the champion Crusaders in their highly anticipated Super Rugby Pacific final rematch at Eden Park.

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Telea stole the show in the Blues’ opening match of the season, having run for more than 220 metres in the teams emphatic 40-point win over the Highlanders.

After losing to the Brumbies in Super Round, the Blues were dealt a tough injury blow as the star winger was ruled out of last weekend’s trip to the capital due to concussion.

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But in a big boost for the Blues, Telea has been named in their matchday squad to take on the Crusaders at 7:05pm NZT on Saturday.

The Blues have made four changes to their starting XV, although Telea is the only difference in the backline.

Prop Alex Hodgman is set to make his first appearance for the Blues since their round one win over the Highlanders in Dunedin.

Hodgman will pack down in the front row alongside Ricky Riccitelli and James Lay, who both started against the Hurricanes in Wellington last weekend.

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All Blacks lock Patrick Tuipulotu has also made way for James Tucker, in what is the only other change in the forward pack.

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The Blues have turned to their all-star backline once again for this crunch clash with the title holders, which includes Finlay Christie and Beauden Barrett in the halves.

Blues coach Leon MacDonald said the team will be “hungry and determined” to avenge their defeat in last year’s final at Eden Park.

“It was a bruising encounter against the Hurricanes last weekend with a few sore bodies around Blues HQ at the start of the week,” coach Leon MacDonald said in a statement.

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“Motivation for this match wasn’t an issue; I know the boys still hurt from the final last year and want to put in a strong performance against a Crusaders side who we know will be hungry and determined.”

 

Blues team to take on Crusaders

  1. Alex Hodgman
  2. Ricky Riccitelli
  3. James Lay
  4. James Tucker
  5. Cameron Suafoa
  6. Adria Choat
  7. Dalton Papali’i
  8. Hoskins Sotutu
  9. Finlay Christie
  10. Beauden Barrett
  11. Caleb Clarke
  12. Roger Tuivasa-Sheck
  13. Rieko Ioane
  14. Mark Telea
  15. Stephen Perofeta

 

Replacements:

  1. Soane Vikena
  2. Jordan Lay
  3. Nepo Laulala
  4. Tom Robinson
  5. Taine Plumtree
  6. Taufa Funaki
  7. Bruce Heem
  8. Zarn Sullivan

 

Unavailable: Sam Darry, Joshua Fusitu’a, Akira Ioane, Sam Nock, Patrick Tuipulotu, Ofa Tu’ungafasi

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