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‘They’re the best’: Former Wallaby praises Blues trio before Tahs clash

By Finn Morton
Caleb Clark of the Blues and Zarn Sullivan of the Blues shake hands during the round six Super Rugby Pacific match between the Highlanders and the Blues at Forsyth Barr Stadium on March 26, 2022 in Dunedin, New Zealand. (Photo by Joe Allison/Getty Images)

Dual international Mat Rogers believes the Blues have the “best back three” in Super Rugby Pacific with Caleb Clarke, Mark Tele’a and Zarn Sullivan set to start against the Waratahs.

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All Blacks wing Tele’a, who was crowned World Rugby’s Breakthrough Player of the Year last October in Paris, joins Sullivan in the top 10 for tries scored this season with two each.

Clarke, 24, is set to return to the Blues’ lineup in round four after missing their loss to the ladder-leading Hurricanes in Wellington last weekend due to a family wedding.

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The 20-Test All Black was red-hot in pre-season, though, with the slimmed-down Clarke scoring an eye-catching hat-trick during their win over Yokohama in Japan.

In the leadup to the Blues’ trip across the Tasman to face the NSW Waratahs at Allianz Stadium, a former Wallaby has explained what makes the trio so lethal.

“I certainly think they’re the best back three at the moment in the competition,” Mat Rogers said on Stan Sports’ The Night Before Gameday. “But are they the best back three of all time?

“Just the speed and power and ability to move the ball and great feet, great pace, great hands. They’ve got it all covered.”

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While the Blues boast plenty of strike power, the Waratahs have their own attacking weapons including star centre Izaia Perese.

Perese, who scored in try in last week’s agonising defeat to the Highlanders at the Sydney venue, has been highlighted as the danger man for the Tahs ahead of their round four clash.

“He’s built low to the ground. He’s a little bit shorter than me but he’s about 10 kilos heavier than me which just shows that he’s a power athlete,” Rogers said.

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“Nine tackle busts on the weekend against the Highlanders. He’s a devastating ball runner, a great defender, not afraid of contact and just a real joy to watch.

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“He’s a bit part of the Waratahs’ attack and defence obviously,” he added. “If he can get the ball in the right place you know he can do some damage.”

In other team news, the Blues have welcomed back fellow All Blacks Ofa Tu’ungafasi and Hoskins Sotutu to the starting lineup.

Sotutu was the form player of the competition across the opening two rounds, with the Blues enforcer crossing for a competition-high five tries against the Drua and Highlanders.

As for the Waratahs, their injury toll has risen to a troubling total of nine players, including their first-choice fullback Max Jorgensen. Wallaby Mark Nawaqanitawase will start at No. 15 instead.

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