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‘Can get the job done: Multiple All Blacks set to miss Blues’ trip to Brisbane

By Finn Morton
Rieko Ioane in action for the Blues. Photo by Hannah Peters/Getty Images

Roger Tuivasa-Sheck is back in the matchday 23 for the Blues as they prepare to take on the Queensland Reds in Brisbane on Friday night.


But the Blues are missing a number of key players, with four All Blacks set to miss the round 13 clash due to the national teams resting policy.

Halfback Finlay Christie, winger Caleb Clarke, centre Rieko Ioane and prop Ofa Tu’ungafasi will all miss the trans-Tasman derby.

Captain Dalton Papali’i has also been ruled out of the match due to suspension. In his absence, veteran Patrick Tuipulotu will lead a reshuffled Blues side this week.

Jordan Lay, Cameron Suafoa and Akira Ioane have all been named in the run-on side this week, while there are another three changes in the backline.

Sam Nock will start at halfback, while Bryce Heem and AJ Lam also take their place in a new-look Blues backline.

The equation is quite simple for the Blues this week: they need to win. The race for the top four is heating up, so every game is going to be crucial at the business end of the regular season.


“The likes of Beauden and Harry have been developing their combination well over recent weeks and it’s good to have two big talkers and game drivers out there on the park directing us around,” coach Leon MacDonald said.

“These next three games are crucial, we’re sitting just outside that top four so if we want to be playing at home in the playoffs we need to go on a little run of wins, starting with the Reds on Friday night.


“Dalts is obviously a big loss for us, he’s a big game player and a leader in the team.

“We are lucky to have a battery of excellent loose forward to call on to help ease the disruption and in Patty we have an experienced campaigner who’s no stranger to the captaincy.”

The Reds shocked the rugby world last Friday when they defeated the previously unbeaten Chiefs in New Plymouth.


Queensland will be eager to record their second consecutive win over New Zealand opposition when they host the Auckland-based Blues in their final home game of the 2023 season.

Captain Patrick Tuipulotu is well aware of the threat the Reds pose, as he spoke about the importance of shutting them down at the set-piece.

“We saw just last week how good they can be by knocking over the Chiefs at home,” Tuipulotu said.

“This is going to be a stern test for the boys, but I feel we have the team who can get the job done on Friday.

“It’s a quick turnaround for us so it will be good to get over to Brisbane, get settled, and get a training in before we look to inject some momentum into our campaign before two games at Eden Park to round out our regular season.

“Cam and I have been chatting this week and working out where we think we can attack the ball.

“The stats show they have the strongest lineout in the competition, and it will no doubt be an area they’ll look to utilise. For us it’s about being precise, disciplined and clear in what we want to achieve at lineout time.”

This match is set to kick-off at 9.35pm NZST at Brisbane’s Suncorp Stadium.

Blues team to take on the Reds

  1. Jordan Lay
  2. Ricky Riccitelli
  3. Marcel Renata
  4. Patrick Tuipulotu (c)
  5. Cameron Suafoa
  6. Akira Ioane
  7. Adrian Choat
  8. Hoskins Sotutu
  9. Sam Nock
  10. Beauden Barrett
  11. AJ Lam
  12. Harry Plummer
  13. Bryce Heem
  14. Mark Telea
  15. Zarn Sullivan


  1. Kurt Eklund
  2. Joshua Fusitu’a
  3. Nepo Laulala/James Lay
  4. James Tucker
  5. Anton Segner
  6. Taufa Funaki
  7. Roger Tuivasa-Sheck
  8. Jacob Ratumaitavuki-Kneepkens

Players not considered: Finlay Christie, Caleb Clarke, Sam Darry, Alex Hodgman, Rieko Ioane, Dalton Papali’i, Tanielu Telea, Ofa Tu’ungafasi


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