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Blues looking to 'go one further' as they name their squad for the 2023 season

By Ned Lester
The Blues following their loss in the Super Rugby Pacific final.Photo by Hannah Peters/Getty Images

 A fresh face with a familiar name is the Blues’ newest recruit for the 2023 DHL Super Rugby Pacific season.

Northland blind-side flanker Rob Rush, son of former All Black and Sevens legend, Eric Rush, has joined the squad for the first time.

Rush attended Saint Kentigern College in Auckland, living and playing in the Blues region with club stints at East Tamaki, East Coast Bays and Kaeo as well as Northland representative level teams.

In his own unique way, Rush explained what it means to be selected in his first Blues squad.

“I was definitely cheering, but also grateful to be part of the boys for the coming season,” said Rush.

“As a newbie to the squad, I can’t wait to pick the brains of those who’ve been around the barracks for a while. At the same time, I’m not going to back down to them. I can’t wait for everything to kick off.”

 Blues Head Coach, Leon MacDonald, said Rush’s selection presented a real opportunity to grow as a rugby player.

“Rob had a really good season for Northland and has honed his craft in the Blues region for many years now. He is a real physical presence on the side of the scrum and has an immense engine and work-rate. We’re excited to see what he can do in a Super Rugby environment.”

MacDonald was equally excited to confirm the remaining names to represent the Blues in 2023 – a squad laden with All Blacks and Super Rugby experience.

“To have a largely settled group returning is very pleasing and means we won’t be starting from scratch, not only from a playing point of view but for team culture also.”

 Rush along with prop, Josh Fusitu’a and outside back, Caleb Tangitau are the only new names to the Blues squad for 2023.

Fusitu’a went to school at Auckland Grammar and came through the Blues development programme. He came into the Blues as a replacement player in 2022, making his debut against Moana Pasifika.

Meanwhile, Tangitau joins the squad having represented the All Blacks Sevens team in 2022. He won a bronze medal at the Birmingham Commonwealth Games and most recently a silver medal at the 2022 Rugby World Cup Sevens.

“We’ve injected some youth into our ranks such as Rob and Josh in the forwards and Caleb in the backs. The key for those younger squad members will be to soak everything up, to learn from the more experienced players and to grow as individuals,” said MacDonald.

MacDonald is also well aware Blues fans are keen for their team to bring home the title in 2023.

“Obviously we want to go one further, I know the boys will come into Blues HQ ready to hit the pre-season with some purpose – we know the hard work starts this side of Christmas. We took some really promising strides last season, so for me as a coach it’s about building on what went well while also bringing some fresh thinking and ideas to the table.”

Forwards:

Adrian Choat (Auckland), Sam Darry (Canterbury), Kurt Eklund (Bay of Plenty), Josh Fusitu’a (Auckland), Alex Hodgman (Auckland), Akira Ioane (Auckland), Nepo Laulala (Counties Manukau), James Lay (Auckland), Dalton Papalii (Counties Manukau), Taine Plumtree (Wellington), Marcel Renata (Auckland), Ricky Riccitelli (Taranaki), Tom Robinson (Northland), Rob Rush (Northland), Anton Segner (Tasman), Hoskins Sotutu (Counties Manukau), Cameron Suafoa (North Harbour), James Tucker (Waikato), Patrick Tuipulotu (Auckland), Ofa Tuungafasi (Northland), Soane Vikena (Auckland).

Backs:

Beauden Barrett (Taranaki), Finlay Christie (Tasman), Caleb Clarke (Auckland), Corey Evans (Auckland), Taufa Funaki (Auckland), Bryce Heem (Auckland), Rieko Ioane (Auckland), AJ Lam (Auckland), Sam Nock (Northland), Stephen Perofeta (Taranaki), Harry Plummer (Auckland), Jacob Ratumaitavuki-Kneepkens (Taranaki), Zarn Sullivan (Auckland), Caleb Tangitau (Auckland), Mark Telea (North Harbour), Tanielu Tele’a (Auckland), Roger Tuivasa-Sheck (Auckland)

Press Release/Blues Rugby

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