NZ Rugby World

A Scrum with Real Sizzle

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The Blues have massive depth in two areas – front row and loose forwards. Tighthead prop Nepo Laulala has signed from the Chiefs, joining fellow All Blacks Ofa Tuungafasi, Alex Hodgman and Karl Tu’inukuafe.

That is some line up, and competitio­n for places will be just as tough among the loosies, where Akira Ioane, Tom Robinson, Dalton Papalii, Dillon Hunt, Hoskins Sotutu and Blake Gibson will be competing for three positions.

That competitio­n will likely drive expectatio­ns and performanc­e, as it did last year. Going by last year’s performanc­es, the Blues’ scrum and lineout will be tough to crack, as will their defence, two areas where assistant coaches Tom Coventry and Tana Umaga did excellent work. They have depth among their outside backs, with Clarke, Telea and Tanielu Tele’a looking to push on and more inexperien­ced talent including Emoni Narawa and newcomers AJL am and Jacob Rat um a it avuki

The Blues have solid options at lock, including Patrick Tuipulotu, Josh

Goodhue, Gerard Cowley-Tuioti and Jacob Pierce. The improved performanc­es from the side last year combined with afternoon kick-offs meant the crowds returned to Eden Park, a place which can be intimidati­ng to visiting teams if full and vibrant.

The Super Rugby buzz returned to Auckland in 2020 and that has to be good for the game in New Zealand.

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