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Tuipulotu's absence looms as Blues prepare for Brumbies battle

Tuipulotu's absence looms as Blues prepare for Brumbies battle

All BlacksJune 10, 2024

Losing talisman lock and captain Patrick Tuipulotu to a medial ligament tear is a blow to the Blues ahead of Friday's DHL Super Rugby Pacific semifinal against the Brumbies at Eden Park.

Tuipulotu is expected to miss six or seven weeks of play after the Blues beat the Drua 36-5.

However, the likely return of Sam Darry from HIA protocols should be some compensation for Tuipolotu's absence.

Coach Vern Cotter said that with centre Bryce Heem potentially returning from injury, there were some excellent discussions ahead of time when settling on their side for the game.

Cotter said the Blues executed the first half of their quarterfinal win over the Drua well by playing into the Drua's corners and trapping them.

"We got points off them, forced them into errors through our set piece, our maul and our scrum, and turned them around, got people into space and wide.

"They were a strong team and played well. In the second half, they didn't give away as many penalties, held onto the ball, and put us under pressure defensively, which was good for us.

"It was probably something we needed. If it was just going to be one-way traffic all game, you wouldn't get anything from it.

In the next weeks we will farewell a legend of the club. The epitome of a Blues man. Hailing from up north and raised in central Auckland Aki bleeds nothing but Blue.

He will potentially play his last game in front of you in a thrilling semi final against the Brumbies on Friday… pic.twitter.com/ehF95E6TQJ

— The Blues (@BluesRugbyTeam) June 9, 2024

"We come in again on Monday and work on a few things for next weekend."

The Blues took time to adapt when the Drua changed tactics, but he was happy they finished on top and with a try.

Cotter said the inclusion of James Thompson when Tuipulotu was injured was impressive.

"He's the epitome of the guy that works in the background and never says anything. He took his opportunity well."

They do face a short turnaround and would shape their week's preparation around that.

Flanker Dalton Papali'i, who took over the captaincy after Tuipolutu left, said they executed some parts of their game well but could have been better in others.

"Next week, we have to lift. It's about winning moment after moment. If we play like we did tonight, it will be a big, hard day in the office.

"But we can take a lot of positives from what we did today. The set piece dominated, and our first 40 minutes we were happy with. But we fell asleep for a few moments in the second half."

How the Drua attacked them in the third quarter reminded them of what they could expect against the Brumbies.

Some solid performances in the #SuperRugbyPacific Quarter Finals 💪

Semi Finals here we come! pic.twitter.com/MQUVR7dS26

— Super Rugby Pacific (@SuperRugby) June 8, 2024

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