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Star winger ruled out of Blues' trip to the capital

By Finn Morton
Mark Telea of the Blues charges forward during the round one Super Rugby Pacific match between Highlanders and Blues at Forsyth Barr Stadium, on February 25, 2023, in Dunedin, New Zealand. (Photo by Joe Allison/Getty Images)

All Blacks winger Mark Telea will miss the Blues’ trip to the capital this weekend after copping “a wee head knock” against the Brumbies in Super Round.


It’s a tough blow for the Blues, as they prepare for their spot at redemption against the Hurricanes on Saturday at 7:05pm NZT.

The Blues began their Super Rugby Pacific campaign with a staggering 40-point win over the Highlander in Dunedin, with Telea stealing the show with more than 220 running metres.

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But the Auckland-based outfit were handed an early season wakeup call against Australian rivals the Brumbies on Sunday, having lost a thriller 20-25 in the heat.

Blues coach Leon MacDonald has only made the one change to his starting XV ahead of the match in Wellington, as they look to return to winning ways against the undefeated Hurricanes.

Telea has been replaced by rising star AJ Lam in the No. 14 jersey.

“Mark copped a wee head knock last weekend, so he’ll sit this one out, but it’s great to have talent like AJ waiting in the wings to replace him,” MacDonald said in a statement.


“It’s early in the competition and we know we weren’t at our best against a good Brumbies side. There’s certainly no panic around the place, we just want to see improvements in a few areas this weekend.”

Playing on a sweltering Sunday afternoon in Melbourne, the Blues were their own worst enemies throughout a thrilling contest at AAMI Park.


After conceding 17 penalties to the Brumbies’ nine, MacDonald added the Blues have “talked a bit” about their poor discipline this week.


“We’ve talked a bit this week about discipline and ensuring we’re giving ourselves a chance to build pressure and take the game to the Canes,” he added.

The Hurricanes started their season with an emphatic win over the Queensland Reds in Townsville, before beating the Melbourne Rebels in a tense tussle on Friday.

Blues captain Dalton Papalii is expecting another tight contest against their North Island rivals on Sunday.

“We saw it in round one last season and I’m sure we’ll see it again this Saturday – both teams like to play with enterprise and we’ve been preparing to shut down the threats they possess across the park,” Papali’i said.

“There’s always a bit of edge at training coming off a loss and as captain I can’t fault the commitment and drive I’ve seen around Blues HQ this week.”


Blues team to take on the Hurricanes

  1. Joshua Fusitu’a
  2. Ricky Riccitelli
  3. James Lay
  4. Patrick Tuipulotu
  5. Cameron Suafoa
  6. Tom Robinson
  7. Dalton Papali’i
  8. Hoskins Sotutu
  9. Finlay Christie
  10. Beauden Barrett
  11. Caleb Clarke
  12. Roger Tuivasa-Sheck
  13. Rieko Ioane
  14. AJ Lam
  15. Stephen Perofeta



  1. Kurt Eklund
  2. Alex Hodgman
  3. Nepo Laulala
  4. James Tucker
  5. Adrian Choat
  6. Taufa Funaki
  7. Bryce Heem
  8. Jacob Ratumaitavuki-Kneepkens


Players not considered: Sam Darry (knee), Akira Ioane (knee), Sam Nock (calf), Harry Plummer (ribs), Mark Telea (concussion), Ofa Tu’ungafasi (concussion)


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