Blues: 1-Karl Tu’inukuafe, 2-Kurt Eklund, 3-Marcel Renata, 4-Gerard Cowley-Tuioti, 5-Josh Goodhue, 6-Tom Robinson (c), 7-Adrian Choat, 8-Hoskins Sotutu, 9-Finlay Christie, 10-Otere Black, 11-AJ Lam, 12-TJ Faiane, 13-Rieko Ioane, 14-Bryce Heem, 15-Zarn Sullivan.
Reserves: 16-Soane Vikena, 17-Ofa Tuungafasi, 18-Nepo Laulala, 19-Jacob Pierce, 20-Akira Ioane, 21-Sam Nock, 22-Harry Plummer, 23-Mark Telea.
Rebels: 1-Cameron Orr, 2-Jordan Uelese, 3-Cabous Eloff, 4-Rob Leota, 5-Ross Haylett-Petty, 6-Josh Kemeny, 7-Richard Hardwick, 8-Michael Wells, 9-Joe Powell, 10-Matt To’omua (c), 11-Marika Koroibete, 12-Campbell Magnay, 13-Stacey Ili, 14-Frank Lomani, 15-Tom Pincus.
Reserves: 16-James Hanson, 17-Matt Gibbon, 18-Lucio Sordoni, 19-Steve Cummins, 20-Michael Icely, 21-James Tuttle, 22-Carter Gordon, 23-Lachie Anderson.
Blues $1.15, Rebels $4.95
Leon MacDonald might miss Blues opening conflict in opposition to Melbourne Rebels with minor chilly
The Blues will head to Melbourne with out head coach Leon MacDonald. The previous All Blacks again utility was absent from coaching on Thursday, opting to stay dwelling with a minor chilly.
Assistant coach Tana Umaga took the reins in MacDonald’s absence and he could achieve this once more come Saturday evening in opposition to the Rebels, within the opening spherical of Tremendous Rugby Trans-Tasman.
Newshub understands MacDonald will not journey along with his squad on Thursday, however might fly into Melbourne on Friday or Saturday.
It is one other undesirable distraction for the Blues, who’re with out two senior gamers in captain Patrick Tuipulotu and excellent unfastened ahead Dalton Papali’i, whereas additionally battling a run of simply two wins of their final 5 video games.
Umaga advised media on Thursday, that whereas MacDonald’s was lacking due to a “little bit of a sniffle”, he’s hopeful the teaching workers might be at full energy for the opening spherical of the competitors.
“We’re attempting to take each precaution to ensure we play our function as a part of that,” Umaga stated.
“He is received to ensure he retains in contact with doc, however I am certain he’ll be positive whether or not he travels immediately or tomorrow – he’ll recover from there at some stage.
Umaga famous that MacDonald and the medical workers determined to maintain him dwelling as a precaution simply 24 hours out from travelling within the Australian-New Zealand border bubble.
“We get to journey, which is an anomaly as of late. That is one thing to be enthusiastic about, however we’re a bit cautious with all the pieces that is occurring on this planet.
“We have a job to do and we’re wanting ahead to getting this competitors underway.”
The Blues are redemption after an underwhelming Tremendous Rugby Aotearoa marketing campaign that left them a win out of the ultimate.
Regardless of being favourites to hitch the Crusaders within the closing, two heavy losses to the Crusaders, and a pair of shock defeats by the hands of the Highlanders and Chiefs, left the squad on the skin wanting in.
Expectations are excessive once more on the Blues, second-favourites with the NZ Tab behind the Crusaders, however throughout the squad, there may be big respect for the written-off Australian franchises.
Stand-in skipper Tom Robinson stated the underdog Aussie outfits pose a harmful menace to a predicted all-Kiwi finale.
“I reckon the bookies are loopy,” Robinson stated. “All of the footage we have seen of the Aussie groups, they’re good.
“We’re anticipating the depth to be greater than the New Zealand competitors, that is the mindset we’re bringing anyway.
“We have had some fairly sincere conversations over the previous week and we really feel like we have set the muse for us to win this competitors.
“We weren’t pleased with how we went in Aotearoa.
“We have been responsible of pondering we would roll on the again of what occurred final yr.
“We’re right here to do the enterprise.”
However the Blues might discover themselves bankrupt in the event that they fall brief on the first hurdle on Saturday.