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Zarn Sullivan gets second shot at Blues No 15 jersey for Rebels clash

By Online Editors

Trending on RugbyPass

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There’s excitement in the Blues camp as they begin a new competition and international travel when they take on the Rebels in the opening round of the Super Rugby Trans-Tasman competition.

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The Blues head to Melbourne for the clash against the Rebels at AAMI Stadium on Saturday evening.

The team will honour experienced midfielder TJ Faiane, who returns to earn his 50th cap, the seventh-highest capped Blues player in the current squad. The 25-year-old will make just his fifth outing of an injury-affected season, but is a key link player on attack and organiser on defence.

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The other team honour goes to No 8 Hoskins Sotutu who will earn his blazer in his 20th appearance, which is an impressive effort for the 22-year-old. He and fellow All Black Rieko Ioane are the only players to have started in all 10 games this season after appearing in all but four games of his debut season in 2020.

“We have freshened up after Super Rugby Aotearoa and are excited about this new competition,” said head coach Leon MacDonald. “The squad are looking forward to flying to Australia and to take on a different team with a different style in a different city.

“There is an element of the unknown but that is what is exciting them and us as coaches.

“We have been watching the Australian games and have been impressed with the speed of the game and the attacking play.

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“One of the key challenges this year has been discipline with referees and now we will face new referees and no doubt a different take on the same laws, so we will need to adjust quickly.”

MacDonald said the team has the opportunity to start again in a new competition and he has challenged them to be more accurate and clinical in their execution.

The team want to build throughout the 80 minutes, with a powerful look to the bench that includes three All Black forwards in Ofa Tuungafasi, Nepo Laulala and Akira Ioane.

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Twenty-year-old Zarn Sullivan earns a second start at fullback after an impressive debut, while his fellow Auckland teammate AJ Lam, with two tries against the Chiefs, gets his first start on the left wing, with Caleb Clarke back with the All Blacks Sevens training squad.

The team return on Sunday to prepare for next week’s special Triple Treat, with the All Blacks Sevens and Black Ferns Sevens playing their Australian counterparts in two games each before and after the Sky Super Rugby Trans-Tasman clash between the Blues and Waratahs at Eden Park on Saturday May 22.

Blues: Zarn Sullivan, Bryce Heem, Rieko Ioane, TJ Faiane, AJ Lam, Otere Black, Finlay Christie, Hoskins Sotutu, Adrian Chota, Tom Robinson, Joshua Goodhue, Gerard Cowley-Tuioti, Marcel Renata, Kurt Eklund, Karl Tu’inukuafe. Reserves: Soane Vikena, Ofa Tuungafasi, Nepo Laulala, Jacob Pierce, Akira Ioane, Sam Nock, Harry Plummer, Mark Telea.

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Zarn Sullivan gets second shot at Blues No 15 jersey for Rebels clash

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