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Ioane brothers ruled out for Blues as side named for Brumbies

By Sam Smith
Rieko Ioane. (Photo by Andrew Cornaga/Photosport)

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The Blues face one of their toughest tests when they travel to Canberra to take on the Brumbies in the penultimate regular-season clash in the DHL Super Rugby Pacific competition on Saturday.

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Coach Leon MacDonald has named a predictably strong line-up led by an experienced pack to take on Australia’s leading team. While a win in Canberra will assure the Blues of top spot in the competition, it is far from MacDonald’s mind.

“We have been taking things one game at a time and not getting ahead of ourselves. This is one of the absolute key tests for us this season and we are ready for a real dog-fight,” said MacDonald.

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“The Brumbies have only lost twice all year and with one of those last weekend, we know they will come with all they have on Saturday.

“We are absolutely looking forward to the confrontation. They have strength across the park and we will need to match them. The team have prepared well and now have to execute both individually and as a team, and show real discipline because the Brumbies will take full toll if they can earn opportunity in our territory.

The Blues have power upfront with All Blacks Ofa Tuungafasi and Alex Hodgman at prop, and with a further two international frontrowers to come off the bench in Karl Tu’inukuafe and Nepo Laulala.

They have bolstered their line-up with the return of Sam Darry to partner the in-form and hard-working James Tucker, who played for the Brumbies last season.

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Exciting rookie Anton Segner comes on to the blindside flank with injuries to Akira Ioane and Tom Robinson, to form a potent backrow with captain Dalton Papalii and fellow All Black Hoskins Sotutu.

The backline is unchanged aside from the injured Rieko Ioane, with Bryce Heem, so influential this season, coming in for his seventh start.

The competition’s leading points scorer Stephen Perofeta, sitting on 99 points for the season, again starts at fullback and will look to continue his exciting combination with halfback Finlay Christie and first-five Beauden Barrett.

The match kicks off at 9.45pm NZ time, in what will be a busy day in the Australian capital on election day.

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The Blues team to play the Brumbies in Canberra:

1. Alex Hodgman (51 Blues caps)
2. Kurt Eklund (34)
3. Ofa Tuungafasi (117)
4. James Tucker (9)
5. Sam Darry (14)
6. Anton Segner (5)
7. Dalton Papalii© (54)
8. Hoskins Sotutu (33)
9. Finlay Christie (27)
10. Beauden Barrett (14)
11. Caleb Clark (35)
12. Roger Tuivasa-Sheck (8)
13. Bryce Heem (17)
14. Mark Telea (35)
15. Stephen Perofeta (41)

Reserves

16. Ricky Riccitelli (8)
17. Karl Tu’inukuafe (38)
18. Nepo Laulala (21)
19. Luke Romano (10)
20. Adrian Choat (16)
21. Sam Nock (48)
22. Tanielu Tele’a (20)
23. Zarn Sullivan (15)

Players not considered: Harry Plummer, Josh Goodhue, Rieko Ioane, Akira Ioane, Tom Robinson.

-Press Release/Blues

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