Super Rugby: Rieko Ioane back as Blues seek quick response against Hurricanes

NZ Herald,
Publish Date
Wednesday, 8 May 2019, 7:56PM
Rieko Ioane is back after an All Black-enforced break last week. (Photo / Photosport)
Rieko Ioane is back after an All Black-enforced break last week. (Photo / Photosport)

Blues prop Alex Hodgman and flanker Tom Robinson have been ruled out of the team to play the Hurricanes at Eden Park due to concussion.

Wing Caleb Clarke is out with illness, with Tanielu Tele'a straight back into the starting line-up for the match on Friday after his four-week suspension for a mid-air collision in the win over the Stormers. Tele'a, only 20 and in his first year at this level, has been one of the Blues' best before his suspension.

There are also several selection changes as coach Leon MacDonald looks to shake things up following his team's 26-21 defeat in Canberra, including Harry Plummer replacing Otere Black at first-five. Wing Rieko Ioane is back after an All Black-enforced break last week.

"We are clearly disappointed with our overall performances in the last three games away. There have been lots of good aspects in each of those games but there have been one or two aspects in each of them that have let us down," MacDonald said.

"We are looking to put a complete performance together, one that we can be proud of and one that our fans deserve.

"We continue to work hard and there are lots of good signs but one or two things let us down in these last two games in particular. This is an excellent opportunity for the team to right the ship."

Hooker James Parsons returns to the starting line-up, along with All Blacks prop Karl Tu'inukuafe as the Blues seek a vastly improved scrummaging effort.

Co-captain Patrick Tuipulotu also starts with Josh Goodhue, who impressed last week, while there's a mobile look to the back row with Dalton Papalii starting with co-captain Blake Gibson and the resilient Akira Ioane.

MacDonald said midfielder Sonny Bill Williams remained on track to possibly return from knee surgery against the Crusaders in three weeks.

Hurricanes coach John Plumtree, who will welcome back halfback TJ Perenara and wing Ben Lam, said: "The Blues have only lost once at Eden Park this year and that was a close defeat to the Crusaders so we know how difficult it is going to be. But it's a challenge we are looking forward to and we really want to get our game going to carry on the momentum we have built up."

Blues: 15. Melani Nanai, 14. Tanielu Tele'a, 13. TJ Faiane, 12. Ma'a Nonu, 11. Rieko Ioane, 10. Harry Plummer, 9. Sam Nock, 8. Akira Ioane, 7. Blake Gibson (cc), 6. Dalton Papalii, 5. Josh Goodhue, 4. Patrick Tuipulotu, 3. Ofa Tuungafasi, 2. James Parsons, 1. Karl Tu'inukuafe. Reserves: 16. Leni Apisai, 17. Ezekiel Lindenmuth, 18. Marcel Renata, 19. Scott Scrafton, 20. Jed Brown, 21. Augustine Pulu, 22. Otere Black, 23. Matt Duffie.

Hurricanes: 15. Jordie Barrett, 14. Wes Goosen, 13. Matt Proctor, 12. Ngani Laumape, 11. Ben Lam, 10. Beauden Barrett, 9. TJ Perenara (c), 8. Reed Prinsep, 7. Ardie Savea, 6. Vaea Fifita, 5. Isaia Walker-Leawere, 4. James Blackwell, 3. Jeff To'omaga-Allen, 2. Asafo Aumua, 1. Toby Smith. Reserves: 16. Ricky Riccitelli, 17. Fraser Armstrong, 18. Ross Geldenhuys, 19. Kane Le'aupepe, 20. Du'Plessis Kirifi, 21. Finlay Christie, 22. James Marshall, 23. Chase Tiatia.

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