Tuipulotu returns to Blues for Chiefs clash
Blues talisman lock, Patrick Tuipulotu, returns to the 23 this weekend along with a host of All Black talent as the Blues travel down State Highway One to face the table-topping Chiefs in Hamilton at 7:05pm on Saturday night.
Tuipulotu has been on the sidelines since he injured his knee in Round Three against the Hurricanes and Blues Head Coach, Leon MacDonald, said it’s great to have his size and leadership back in blue.
“He brings an edge, an experienced player who can shift bodies and hit hard. We’re very happy to have him back on the bench for this weekend’s match,” said MacDonald.
Fans can expect to see All Black matchups across the park, with mouth-watering head-to-heads likely in the back row, at first-five and in the midfield with a chance for players to push their case for national selection.
“A few boys stood up last week and took their chance against the Force. We welcome a lot of our core group back to the fold for the Chiefs and know we have a hard task on our hands come Saturday night.”
The Blues have had the wood over the Chiefs in recent years, winning five of their last six Super Rugby games against their neighbours. However, the Chiefs are on a five-game winning streak in 2023 and currently sit atop the Super Rugby Pacific table.
Colossal matchups on the way!— Super Rugby Pacific (@SuperRugby) March 29, 2023
Here are your Round 6 fixtures. Tell us which game you're looking forward to most?#SuperRugbyPacific pic.twitter.com/uadt4sJmWO
Blues Captain Dalton Papalii is eager to get on the bus to Hamilton after a week away from rugby.
“Nothing beats the Battle of the Bombays! We’ve had some epic matches over the years and I’m sure this will be no different. Bragging rights are on the line,” said Papalii.
“The Chiefs have been the form side so far this season, they’re unbeaten and playing some good code, but there’s a focus and intensity to what we’ve been doing this week, we’re ready to head down the road and take the game to them.”
Saturday’s match promises to be a free-flowing match with the Chiefs and Blues sitting first and second respectively in the ‘defenders beaten’ stat line this season. The Chiefs have beaten 31 defenders per game with the Blues beating 30 defenders, sitting just one behind.
Papalii expects more of the same at FMG Stadium on Saturday night.
“You can’t go into a big game and stop playing, we’ve been building nicely over recent weeks and the boys are pumped to put on a show this weekend,” said Papalii.
1 Jordan Lay
2 Ricky Riccitelli
3 Nepo Laulala
4 Cameron Suafoa
5 Sam Darry
6 Anton Segner
7 Dalton Papalii (c)
8 Hoskins Sotutu
9 Finlay Christie
10 Beauden Barrett
11 Caleb Clarke
12 Harry Plummer
13 Rieko Ioane
14 AJ Lam
15 Stephen Perofeta
16 Kurt Eklund
17 Ofa Tuungafasi
18 James Lay
19 Patrick Tuipulotu
20 Tom Robinson
21 Sam Nock
22 Corey Evans
23 Jacob Ratumaitavuki-Kneepkens (Zarn Sullivan)
50 for big red this weekend 🧡 pic.twitter.com/KxLi5NA8iV— The Blues (@BluesRugbyTeam) March 30, 2023