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Why the Blues chose Harry Plummer over Roger Tuivasa-Sheck for Crusaders clash

By Finn Morton
Credit: Derek Morrison / www.photosport.nz

When the Blues named their team to take on the champion Crusaders in Christchurch, there was one stunning omission which would’ve come as a surprise to many.

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Following a lengthy stint on the sidelines with a hand injury, Roger Tuivasa-Sheck made his return last weekend in the Blues’ thrilling 31-30 win over Moana Pasifika at Eden Park.

But a week is a long time in the rugby world.

Ahead of their crunch clash with fierce rivals the Crusaders, which is arguably their biggest game of the season so far, the Blues decided to go in a different direction.

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Tuivasa-Sheck has been left out of the matchday 23 completely. Instead, playmaker Harry Plummer will start in the midfield alongside All Black Rieko Ioane.

“Harry is sort of our glue guy at the moment,” Blues assistant coach Daniel Halangahu told SENZ Breakfast.

“We have threats all across the park so we don’t necessarily need another threat, we don’t need another ball carrier, we need someone who can talk and organise.

“He plays a lot of first-five as well… he’s just been in really good form at 12.

“He has provided a few nice touches, and the work he does behind the scenes, you played a lot with a guy like Ryan Crotty and I think Harry is trying to mould himself on someone like that who’s not necessarily the superstar that runs out there but everyone else plays better because he’s out there.”

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Former New Zealand Warriors captain Tuivasa-Sheck confirmed last month that he’d signed a multi-year with the NRL club from next season.

The All Black, who is still hoping to make the All Blacks’ Rugby World Cup squad, is one of the greatest New Zealand rugby league players ever – and will add to his legacy when he returns to the 13-player game.

But for now, the dual international is still a rugby union player – and Halangahu insists both the Blues and Tuivasa-Sheck are “committed” to one other for the remainder of the season.

“Anyone who goes and changes codes, there’s got to be a lot of respect for the challenge they take on,” he said.

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“He’s still very much committed to it (the Blues) and in the middle of it at the moment.

“We’re still very much committed to his growth, it’s no longer a long-term project with RTS, it’s about the here and now.

“He’s just so committed to being better at whatever he is doing.

“I just take my hat off to him.”

The Blues are currently third on the Super Rugby Pacific ladder, and will take on the fourth-placed Crusaders on Saturday evening at Christchurch’s Orangetheory Stadium.

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Jon 2 hours ago
Why Sam Cane's path to retirement is perfect for him and the All Blacks

> It would be best described as an elegant solution to what was potentially going to be a significant problem for new All Blacks coach Scott Robertson. It is a problem the mad population of New Zealand will have to cope with more and more as All Blacks are able to continue their careers in NZ post RWCs. It will not be a problem for coaches, who are always going to start a campaign with the captain for the next WC in mind. > Cane, despite his warrior spirit, his undoubted commitment to every team he played for and unforgettable heroics against Ireland in last year’s World Cup quarter-final, was never unanimously admired or respected within New Zealand while he was in the role. Neither was McCaw, he was considered far too passive a captain and then out of form until his last world cup where everyone opinions changed, just like they would have if Cane had won the WC. > It was never easy to see where Cane, or even if, he would fit into Robertson’s squad given the new coach will want to be building a new-look team with 2027 in mind. > Cane will win his selections on merit and come the end of the year, he’ll sign off, he hopes, with 100 caps and maybe even, at last, universal public appreciation for what was a special career. No, he won’t. Those returning from Japan have already earned the right to retain their jersey, it’s in their contract. Cane would have been playing against England if he was ready, and found it very hard to keep his place. Perform, and they keep it however. Very easy to see where Cane could have fit, very hard to see how he could have accomplished it choosing this year as his sabbatical instead of 2025, and that’s how it played out (though I assume we now know what when NZR said they were allowing him to move his sabbatical forward and return to NZ next year, they had actually agreed to simply select him for the All Blacks from overseas, without any chance he was going to play in NZ again). With a mammoth season of 15 All Black games they might as well get some value out of his years contract, though even with him being of equal character to Richie, I don’t think they should guarantee him his 100 caps. That’s not what the All Blacks should be about. He absolutely has to play winning football.

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