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RTS set for lengthy sideline stint; six ABs rested as Blues name team

By Finn Morton
(Photo by Phil Walter/Getty Images)

Blues midfielder Roger Tuivasa-Sheck will miss “at least a month” of Super Rugby Pacific with a hand injury, while another All Black has been ruled out “for the rest of the season.”

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The Blues will turn to a new-look backline on Sunday afternoon when they take on the Western Force at Eden Park.

All Blacks Beauden Barrett, Finlay Christie, Caleb Clarke, Rieko Ioane, Nepo Laulala and Dalton Papali’i weren’t considered for this weeks match due to the national teams resting policy.

A handful of other Blues stars – including Tuivasa-Sheck, Alex Hodgman and James Lay – have also been ruled out of the Round Five clash due to injuries.

Hodgman will miss the rest of the Super Rugby Pacific season with a shoulder injury, while Tuivasa-Sheck is also set for a lengthy stint on the sidelines.

“It was a real ding-dong over the weekend and we’ve unfortunately picked up a couple more injuries,” Coach Leon MacDonald said in a statement.

“Roger has a cast on his right hand so will be out for at least a month while Alex and James picked up shoulder and ankle injuries respectively.

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“Unfortunately Alex will be out for the rest of the season, you never like to see players end their season prematurely and we wish him well in his recovery. Our medical staff will monitor James’ ankle over the next week to see where he lands.

After losing to the Crusaders in an all-time classic in Auckland last week, the Blues have made a staggering 12 changes to their starting XV.

Second-rowers James Tucker and Cameron Suafoa have retained their places in the run-on side, and All Black Hoskins Sotutu has as well.

The rest of the team looks different this week, with Adria Choat moving from blindside flanker to the openside. Similarly, Mark Telea has shifted wings in what is a minor change.

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Playmaker Harry Plummer has come into the starting side at inside centre, and has also been given the captaincy.

“Harry Plummer will lead the team in Dalton’s absence. Harry is (the) captain of the Auckland Bunnings NPC side and has the respect of our team. He’s a leader within the group and we trust him with the armband this weekend,” he added.

Plummer will start in the midfield alongside Bryce Heem, and is set to play outside of Stephen Perofeta who has been given his first opportunity at flyhalf this season.

“I was honoured when Leon asked me to take the reins this weekend,” Plummer said.

“I’ve been out for a couple of weeks now, so I’m stoked to be back playing and I know the boys are keen to bounce back from last weekend and put in a tough performance against the Force.

“We’ve got some fresh faces in the line-up and we work in a competitive environment. WE all want game time so when you get a chance to perform you have to take it with both hands.”

The match is scheduled to kick-off at 3:35pm NZT at Auckland’s Eden Park on Sunday afternoon.

Blues team to take on Western Force

  1. Joshua Fusitu’a
  2. Kurt Eklund
  3. Ofa Tu’ungafasi
  4. James Tucker
  5. Cameron Suafoa
  6. Anton Segner
  7. Adrian Choat
  8. Hoskins Sotutu
  9. Sam Nock
  10. Stephen Perofeta
  11. Mark Telea
  12. Harry Plummer (c)
  13. Bryce Heem
  14. Jacob Ratumaitavuki-Kneepkens
  15. Zarn Sulivan

Replacements:

  1. Ricky Riccitelli
  2. Jordan Lay
  3. Marcel Renata
  4. Tom Robinson
  5. Sam Darry
  6. Taine Plumtree
  7. Taufa Funaki
  8. AJ Lam (Corey Evans)

Players not considered: Beauden Barrett, Finlay Christie, Caleb Clarke, Alex Hodgman, Akira Ioane, Rieko Ioane, Nepo Laulala, James Lay, Dalton Papali’i, Patrick Tuipulotu, Roger Tuivasa-Sheck

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Shaylen 9 hours ago
Brumbies the best team in Australia but still nothing to show for it

The Brumbies have been the strongest side in Australia for a long time and that was down to their forwards and set piece which has always been good and has always been able to dominate their Australian counterparts. This year the lack of maul tries and also the lack of a stable scrum has been a real problem which was also something Nick alluded to in his article this week about the creaking brumbies tight five. Home advantage is key as you say and the Brumbies must find a way to score more bonus points. If the Brumbies are really serious about winning a title they need to do what Kiwi sides at the top do. They need to smash every Aus side with a bonus point at home while claiming losing bonus points in every game they lose and denying their rivals bonus points. In their 3 losses in NZ this year they were smashed. They only scored 60 tries which is middle of the road, their scrum came in at 73% which was one of the worst in the comp, tackle success at just 83% which was right at the bottom and in terms of metres, clean breaks, carries, offloads and rucks built they were in the middle plus they had the most yellows. They basically were just not dominant enough wile they can improve their discipline. They excelled at kicking and won plenty of lineout ball plus their rucks were secure at 97%. Not sure about turnovers but they weren’t bad there. They just need to be more clinical and give away less and they will give themselves the best chance to win the title.

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