Narawa starts for Blues, Sotutu rested
Fijian-born winger Emoni Narawa starts for Blues as they face the Hurricanes in the second half of the Super Rugby Aotearoa competition in Wellington tomorrow. Narawa, who celebrated his 21st birthday, steps in for rising star Caleb Clarke. Also rested is No.8 Hoskins Sotutu with Akira Ioane taking over. Blues coach Leon MacDonald said Narawa had trained impressively in recent weeks to earn his chance. The other changes see Kurt Eklund and Aaron Carroll replacing the injured pair of James Parsons and Blake Gibson in the pack. The debut for 141-game Super Rugby veteran Dan Carter is on hold with the team taking the precaution to replace him on the bench after he was hampered with a minor calf twinge at training. His place in the reserves is taken by Matt Duffie while lock Gerard Cowley-Tuioti, back from injury, will celebrate his 50th game for the Blues. MacDonald believes the side has taken plenty of positives from last Saturday’s loss to the Crusaders.
“We did a lot of very good things at set phase and the collision area, and we produced some important front-foot ball. Hopefully the boys can take confidence from those positives into what will be another big battle this week,” said MacDonald.
“The Hurricanes are playing well and are renowned for their physical rush defence, which we will need to counter.
“We have resisted any significant change in the backs. We are really pleased with how Harry Plummer is performing, while we believe Otere at first-five and Beauden at fullback is our best option at present as they combine well.”
The match kicks-off at 7.05pm.
Blues: 15 Beauden Barrett, 14 Emoni Narawa, 13 Rieko Ioane, 12 Harry Plummer, 11 Mark Telea, 10 Otere Black, 9 Finlay Christie; 8 Akira Ioane, 7 Dalton Papalii, 6 Aaron Carroll, 5 Josh Goodhue, 4 Patrick Tuipulotu ©, 3 Ofa Tuungafasi, 2 Kurt Eklund, 1 Alex Hodgman.
Reserves: 16 Tolai Luteru, 17 Marcel Renata, 18 Sione Mafileo, 19 Gerard Cowley-Tuioti, 20 Tony Lamborn, 21 Jonathan Ruru, 22 TJ Faiane, 23 Matt Duffie.
Hurricanes: 1. Ben May, 2. Dane Coles (cc), 3. Tyrel Lomax, 4. James Blackwell, 5. Scott Scrafton, 6. Reed Prinsep, 7. Du’Plessis Kirifi, 8. Ardie Savea, 9. TJ Perenara (cc), 10. Jackson Garden-Bachop, 11. Ben Lam, 12. Ngani Laumape, 13. Peter Umaga-Jensen, 14. Kobus Van Wyk, 15. Jordie Barrett. Reserves: 16. Asafo Aumua, 17. Fraser Armstrong, 18. Alex Fidow, 19. Isaia Walker-Leawere, 20. Vaea Fifita, 21. Jamie Booth, 22. Billy Proctor, 23. Wes Goosen