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Why Blues captain Patrick Tuipulotu has ‘empathy’ for winless Crusaders

By Finn Morton
Patrick Tuipulotu of the Blues runs through drills during a Blues Super Rugby training session at Blues HQ on March 19, 2024 in Auckland, New Zealand. (Photo by Hannah Peters/Getty Images)

Named to return from an injury layoff, Patrick Tuipulotu is hoping to beat the Crusaders for only the second time when the skipper takes the field for his 100th Blues appearance.

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Tuipulotu, who suffered a fracture to his jaw while in Japan during pre-season, has only beaten the Crusaders once and that was during the third round of the Super Rugby season in 2014.

The All Blacks and Blues lock has gone on to play another 97 matches for the Auckland-based franchise to date, which included a Super Rugby Trans-Tasman title in 2021.

Head-to-Head

Last 5 Meetings

Wins
1
Draws
0
Wins
4
Average Points scored
20
27
First try wins
80%
Home team wins
80%

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But during most of Tuipulotu’s career, the Crusaders have reigned supreme over both the Blues and the Super Rugby competition. The defending champions have won 18 of their last 19 matches against the Aucklanders.

The Blues have a golden opportunity to strike against their old foe on Saturday, though, with the Crusaders looking to avoid an undesirable 0-5 start to the season. Still, Tuipulotu has “a bit of empathy” for one of the Blues’ traditional rivals.

“Last time I beat them was my first start, my second game here,” Tuipulotu said, as reported by Newshub. “That was 10 years ago so this makes it extra special.

“The hard thing is feeling for how the Crusaders are going. Their run is quite tough at the moment but anytime they come up against the Blues they’re a different team, so that’s something we must watch out for.

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“I’ve been in their position before,” he added. “It’s quite hard to be in.

“You come in every Monday, looking at each other for solutions, and nothing’s quite working.

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“I certainly have a bit of empathy there.”

For the first time since 1996, the Crusaders started their season with three losses on the bounce following defeats to the Chiefs, Waratahs and Fijian Drua.

The Crusaders looked to bounce back in their first home match of the season against the Hurricanes, but a try at the death saw the visitors snatch victory from the jaws of defeat.

It’s almost hard to believe the Crusaders are winless from four matches. But after the Crusaders’ heartbreaking loss to the Canes, the Blues have even more motivation to get the job done at Eden Park.

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“That was probably my first thought watching their game last week,” Tuipulotu explained. “They’re going to come up here and we don’t want to give them that start to their season.

“We’ve definitely thought about it.”

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