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Live blog: Super Rugby Pacific round seven

By Finn Morton
(Photo by Asanka Ratnayake/Getty Images)

The seventh round of Super Rugby Pacific continues on Saturday when the Rebels host the Blues in Melbourne. Follow all the action in our live blog below.

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Team news

Super Rugby veteran Aaron Smith will not run out to Forsyth Barr Stadium on Saturday when the Highlanders taken on the high-flying Hurricanes.

Smith has been ruled out of the New Zealand derby due to family reasons. In his place, Test halfback Folau Fakatava is set to start his second match of the season.

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In total, the Highlanders have made four changes to their starting XV ahead of the highly-anticipated clash.

As for their opponents, the Hurricanes have named a star-studded side for the match – including the return of world-class backrower Ardie Savea.

The Hurricanes have made nine changes to their starting side, and you can read the full run down here.

Halfback Cam Roigard is set to return after being named in the No. 9 jersey, and will partner rising star Aidan Morgan in the halves after flyhalf Brett Cameron was injured last weekend.

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In the final match of round seven, the Blues have welcomed back a couple of key players for their crucial match against the Rebels in Melbourne.

All Blacks lock Patrick Tuipulotu will start in the No. 4 jersey, while Mark Telea has also been named on the right wing.

Replacement hooker Jordan Uelese can become the first Rebels player to play 50 Super Rugby games after being named on the bench.

Flyhalf Carter Gordon is set to start in the No. 10 jumper again this week – a player who could break Blues’ hearts if he’s on song tonight.

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MVP round seven votes (3-2-1)

Crusaders vs Moana Pasifika – Richie Mo’unga (Crusaders), Dallas McLeod (Crusaders), Levi Aumua (Moana Pasifika)

Reds vs Brumbies – Rob Valetini (Brumbies), Tom Wright (Brumbies), Noah Lolesio (Brumbies)

Highlanders vs Hurricanes – Cam Roigard (Hurricanes), Salesi Rayasi (Hurricanes), Du’Plessis Kirifi (Hurricanes)

Rebels vs  Blues – Beauden Barrett (Blues), Finlay Christie (Blues), Mark Telea (Blues)

MVP candidates leader board (updated)

12 points – Richie Mo’unga (Crusaders)

11 points – Shaun Stevenson (Chiefs)

8 points – Leicester Fainga’anuku (Crusaders)

7 points – Cam Roigard (Hurricanes), Damian McKenzie (Chiefs)

6 points – Aaron Smith (Highlanders), Brodie Retallick (Chiefs), Emoni Narawa (Chiefs), Hamish Stewart (Force), Jordan Petaia (Reds), Jordie Barrett (Hurricanes), Lachlan Lonergan (Brumbies), Mark Telea (Blues), Richard Hardwick (Rebels), Tevita Ikanivere (Drua)

5 points – Salesi Rayasi (Hurricanes)

4 points – Beauden Barrett (Blues), Carter Gordon (Rebels), Iosefo Masi (Drua), Josh Flook (Reds), Langi Gleeson (Waratahs), Rob Valetini (Brumbies), Sam Gilbert (Highlanders), Tom Wright (Brumbies)

3 points – Andy Muirhead (Brumbies), Bailyn Sullivan (Hurricanes), Dalton Papali’i (Blues), Du’Plessis Kirifi (Hurricanes), Finlay Christie (Blues), Hoskins Sotutu (Blues), James Slipper (Brumbies), Kini Naholo (Hurricanes), Lachie Anderson (Rebels), Ryan Lonergan (Brumbies), Salestino Ravutaumada (Drua), Thomas Umaga-Jensen (Highlanders)

2 points – Ardie Savea (Hurricanes), Brad Weber, Billy Harmon (Highlanders), Codie Taylor (Crusaders), Dallas McLeod (Crusaders), Danny Toala (Moana), David Havili (Crusaders), Harry Wilson (Reds), Jamie Booth (Hurricanes), Kitione Salawa (Drua), Levi Aumua (Moana), Luke Reimer (Brumbies), Mark Nawaqanitawase (Waratahs), Nic White (Brumbies), Rhys Van Nek (Brumbies), Taj Annan (Reds), Tane Edmed (Waratahs), Tim Anstee (Force)

1 point – Abraham Pole (Moana), Alex Nankivell (Chiefs), Anton Segner (Blues), Eroni Sau (Drua), Fetuli Paea (Highlanders), Josh Moorby (Hurricanes), Kalaveti Ravouvou (Drua), Len Ikitau (Brumbies), Liam Wright (Reds), Max Jorgensen (Waratahs), Nepo Laulala (Blues), Nikora Broughton (Highlanders), Noah Lolesio (Brumbies), Ollie Callan (Force), Sam Whitelock (Crusaders), Samipeni Finau (Chiefs), Samisoni Taukei’aho (Chiefs), Stephen Perofeta (Blues)

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Tim 2 hours ago
'It’s a mental thing': Joe Schmidt on the Wallabies' flyhalf issues

Ben Donaldson had not played Super Rugby for the past eight weeks. Surely, he was playing Shute Shield for Randwick in that time to keep up the fitness…?? Eight weeks is a long break to be thrust in against a hungry skillful side like Georgia who deserve to be in the “7 Nations”. (Italy, Wales & Scotland v Georgia, can’t wait to see those ones). In the second test against Wales, Donaldson was put on for nine minutes. That was a mistake from the coaching team, who already knew he was starting the following week against Georgia. They should have put him on for 20-25 minutes, with Nick Whyte at halfback, and their combination from the Force would have flowed. Donaldsons first 20 minutes against Georgia was a shocker. However, well done to Joe Schmidt for keeping him out there because Donaldsons game improved as the rust came off, he was hammered a few times and handled it and he came into his groove. He made mistakes which they will all learn from. Ben Donaldson is a naturally talented rugby player who the Wallabies have to stick with at no.10. “Over the black Dot-aldson” is a good nick name for him with his awesome goal kicking style. It looks as though, off the boot, it’s going to hit the post. Then it just curves in beautifully every time, once he is in the groove. Donaldsons play this season for the Force, with Kurtley and co., was amazing to watch. Kurtley making one of the best comebacks in history. Donaldson has to be played consistently with Flash Gordon, Big LEN, McReight, Tupou, Kellaway. Oh, that’s right, there is Bell, Kerevi, Petaia (This list does go on a bit). Donaldson will be slotting these weapons into gaps, and into the clear, before we know it… One more thing which I will just assume is happening, just include JOC in the Wallabies squad. He is a rugby genius. His skills, wisdom and experience would be infectious around the Wallabies relatively inexperienced backline. JOC has mastered the art of all the positions long ago. JOC is so skilled and match fit atm taking THE REDS, at no.10, within a point of beating Wales. He can come off the bench and slot into the backline for the Wallabies at 10, 12, 13 or 15 at any stage of a test match. Ummm yeah, not bad… I am assuming that BIG JOE, Laurie “Gandalf” Fischer, Mike “The scrum Doctor” Cron and the team obviously already know all this. I am just a passionate rugby union supporter, and I am very happy that these guys are in charge of the coaching duties, what a coaching team the Wallabies have been blessed with. (Good luck with selecting the match day 23 when Will Skelton, who was playing amazing rugby for La Rochelle, and the boys return from Europe/Japan, Samu Kerevi…???) Now just imagine having Bernie Larkham, Toutai Kefu, Nathan Grey and John “Nobody” Eales as your coaching apprentices… GO AUSTRALIAN RUGBY… Doing a great job Phil Waugh, Joe Roff, Dan Herbert and the team. An amazing three years ahead. GO THE WALLABIES… GO THE WALLAROOS… GO THE 7’s in Paris…

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