Blues wary of Queensland threat
The Blues are Brisbane-bound this week, preparing to face the giant killing Queensland Reds on Friday night at 9:35pm (NZT) at Suncorp Stadium.
A reshuffled Blues team will make the trip across the ditch with several players on All Blacks rest. Experienced head, Patrick Tuipulotu, will lead the side while Dalton Papalii serves a three-week suspension.
In the pack, Jordan Lay, Cameron Suafoa and Akira Ioane return to the starting XV while in the backs Sam Nock starts at halfback with Bryce Heem getting the nod at centre and AJ Lam on the left wing.
Head Coach Leon MacDonald said despite a few changes, the vast majority of the team have already seen big minutes this Super Rugby Pacific campaign.
“The likes of Beauden and Harry have been developing their combination well over recent weeks and it’s good to have two big talkers and game drivers out there on the park directing us around.”
“These next three games are crucial, we’re sitting just outside that top four so if we want to be playing at home in the playoffs we need to go on a little run of wins, starting with the Reds on Friday night.”
The finals picture as it stands!@westernforce enter the fray.— Super Rugby Pacific (@SuperRugby) May 16, 2023
How much changes this weekend?#SuperRugbyPacific pic.twitter.com/IGM2Y0tXsO
MacDonald was pragmatic about losing Papalii for the next three weeks of the campaign.
“Dalts is obviously a big loss for us, he’s a big game player and a leader in the team. We are lucky to have a battery of excellent loose forwards to call on to help ease the disruption and in Patty we have an experienced campaigner who’s no stranger to the captaincy.”
Captain Patrick Tuipulotu said his side have previewed the Reds and are well aware of the dangers they possess across the park.
“We saw just last week how good they can be by knocking over the Chiefs at home. This is going to be a stern test for the boys, but I feel we have the team who can get the job done on Friday.”
“It’s a quick turnaround for us so it will be good to get over to Brisbane, get settled, and get a training in before we look to inject some momentum into our campaign before two games at Eden Park to round out the regular season."
Cameron Suafoa partners Tuipulotu in the locking department for this match with both players up for the challenge against a strong opposing lineout.
“Cam and I have been chatting this week and working out where we think we can attack their ball. The stats show they have the strongest lineout in the competition, and it will no doubt be an area they’ll look to utilise. For us it’s about being precise, disciplined and clear in what we want to achieve at lineout time.”
1. Jordan Lay
2. Ricky Riccitelli
3. Marcel Renata
4. Patrick Tuipulotu (c)
5. Cameron Suafoa
6. Akira Ioane
7. Adrian Choat
8. Hoskins Sotutu
9. Sam Nock
10. Beauden Barrett
11. AJ Lam
12. Harry Plummer
13. Bryce Heem
14. Mark Telea
15. Zarn Sullivan
16. Kurt Eklund
17. Joshua Fusitu’a
18. Nepo Laulala/James Lay
19. James Tucker
20. Anton Segner
21. Taufa Funaki
22. Roger Tuivasa-Sheck
23. Jacob Ratumaitavuki-Kneepkens
Players not considered: Finlay Christie (ABs rest), Caleb Clarke (ABs rest), Sam Darry (arm, season), Alex Hodgman (shoulder, season), Rieko Ioane (ABs rest), Dalton Papalii (suspension), Tanielu Telea (knee), Ofa Tuungafasi (ABs rest)