Akira to start, Sotutu still at No.8
The Blues have made a pair of changes to their starting side to face the Chiefs at FMG Stadium in Hamilton on Saturday. Akira Ioane and Dalton Papalii have been named in the loose forwards, replacing injured duo Tom Robinson and Blake Gibson respectively.
Ioane, who didn’t play during the Blues’ 30-20 win over the Hurricanes, will start at blindside flanker with Papalii, who came off the bench, slots in at openside.
Robinson sustained a knee injury in the win over the Hurricanes, while Gibson was forced from the field with a hamstring injury and a head knock.
There are also two changes on the bench with US international Tony Lamborn and Sione Mafileo coming into play.
The rest of the team is unchanged, with Beauden Barrett remaining at fullback and Otere Black at first-five. “We know that last week was a good start but that we will need to get better if we want a positive result against the Chiefs,” says Blues coach Leon MacDonald.
“The players who took the field will be better for that experience, especially understanding the importance of discipline at the breakdown and getting back into competition after so long off.
“Parts of our play were good last week but we must lift to another level against what we know is a very good and very physical Chiefs side, as well as a healthy rivalry with our neighbours.”
The Blues take on the Chiefs at FMG Stadium in Hamilton at 7.05pm.
Blues: 1 Alex Hodgman, 2 James Parsons, 3 Ofa Tuungafasi, 4 Patrick Tuipulotu (c), 5 Josh Goodhue, 6 Akira Ioane, 7 Dalton Papalii, 8 Hoskins Sotutu, 9 Sam Nock, 10 Otere Black, 11 Caleb Clarke, 12 TJ Faiane, 13 Rieko Ioane, 14 Mark Telea, 15 Beauden Barrett.
Reserves: 16 Kurt Eklund, 17 Marcel Renata, 18 Sione Mafileo, 19 Gerard CowleyTuioti, 20 Tony Lamborn, 21 Fin Christie, 22 Harry Plummer, 23 Matt Duffie.