Blues 2018



  • As far as I know, that Blues have 32 players signed for next year, though I may be off by up to three (Matt Vaega, Sione Mafileo, Kara Pryor).

    Assuming a squad of 38, the positions available are: loosehead, tighthead, lock (1x), loose forward (1x, probably number 8 cover), halfback, and one other.

    Now that we've seen a few rounds of NPC, who are we thinking have put their hands up for these positions, and who would be available? Might be a bit hard to judge Auckland players at the moment though ...

    I'd guess that North Harbour's Mike Tamoaieta will be the tighthead prop. Is Chris Eves available? If not then loosehead options include Mayhew and Smith from Harbour, Lindenmuth (too unproven?) from Auckland, and Waa from Northland.

    Lock - is Fatialofa available? Otherwise I have no idea. The Blues are very dependent on Scrafton at set-piece. Hopefully Goodhue will develop a lot by the start of the season.

    Number 8 needs to be a player who is ready for regular game time. Taramai is out apparently. Jordan Manehira? Hapakuki Moala-Liava'a? Matt Matich? Josh Kaifa?

    Halfback is real struggle. Maybe Jack Stratton. Is Ruru available? Can we poach back Enari?

    Pick another back or another loose forward for the wildcard? Another 2nd 5 or wing option would be handy too. Caleb Clarke is very young.

    These are the players I think are signed for next year:

    Pauliasi Manu
    Alex Hodgman
    Ofa Tu'ungafasi
    Sione Mafileo

    James Parsons
    Matt Moulds
    Leni Apisai

    Patrick Tuipulotu
    Scott Scrafton
    Gerard Cowley-Tuioti
    Josh Goodhue

    Blake Gibson (7)
    Jerome Kaino (6, eight)
    Akira Ioane (6, eight)
    Jimmy Tupou (6)
    Dalton Papali'i (6, 7)
    Kara Pryor (7)

    Augustine Pulu
    Sam Nock

    Stephen Perofeta
    Otere Black
    Bryn Gatland

    SBW
    George Moala
    Rieko Ioane
    T. J. Faiane
    Matt Vaega

    Matt Duffie
    Melani Nanai
    Michael Collins
    Jordan Trainor
    Caleb Clarke



  • Looking at that list it is quite weird to feel that the weak area is the outside backs. Usually it's all flash and no cash.
    Certainly a very decent XV can be made from that list.



  • @Crucial Yeah, it's weird, though it might be because Auckland look so bad. Trainor had a great 30 mins against the Reds in very humid conditions, and was in prime position for a hot NPC. Clarke is in that same shit team, and Nanai hasn't played yet.

    I'm guessing that the back three will be Ioane, Duffie, and Collins. With regular appearances from Nanai. Trainor covers fullback and wing, and Vaega and Moala cover wing.

    If Nanai completes his development and Trainor returns to form, then that could be quite a group.

    Is Collins playing for Otago? Would love to see Nanai and Duffie develop their kicking games.

    Luteru Laulala might be an option.

    Eight and lock depth, and replacement hooker are my main concerns. Would love to have a quick thinking and passing halfback who could start half the games.



  • I hope the Chiefs have their hooks well into Luteru Laulala. He has already turned out in a Chiefs jersey.



  • @Crucial They've already poached Alaimalo. 🙂



  • @Tim said in Blues 2018:

    @Crucial They've already poached Alaimalo. 🙂

    Hardly a poach for Laulala. The Laulala's are CM and CM are Chiefs.



  • Yes, but Alaimalo was poached from Northland. Let us have one in return.



  • Anyway, when North Harbour rightfully gets their Super Rugby team, Counties-Manukau will be back with Auckland, where they belong.



  • Keep an eye on Tamati Tua as a midfield option.
    Played very well for the Junior ABs and has looked good for Northland so far.



  • @Tim said in Blues 2018:

    Yes, but Alaimalo was poached from Northland.

    Who poached him from Canterbury. 🙂

    His little brother will be playing for Hamilton BHS this afternoon.



  • @Bovidae he came of his own free will 🙂 ...although TBF I had heard the Chiefs were keen on him before he even played for Northland.



  • @Tim Michael Collins isn't playing for Otago due to a stress fracture in his leg.

    Is Matt Vaega signed? I don't think he played one minute for the Blues in 2017. Which is a shame because he is a good player.

    I'm not convinced at all by Trainor. One decent cameo against a garbage Reds side with nothing to play for - aside from that he's shown next to nothing to even look Super Rugby standard.

    I'd prefer to have a quality midfield than outside backs - Blues havent had a quality midfield in forever. With SBW, Rieko, and youngsters Faiane (and hopefully Tua) there is some genuine midfield ability there. Knowing the Blues though they'll probably stubbornly stick Moala in the midfield and then wonder why their backline has no flow.

    I'm interested in who Blues sign for their 3rd halfback - I'd be throwing everything at Enari but there are also other good young halfbacks around. Pleasing that Nock is looking good for Northland.



  • @taniwharugby

    It was more to highlight that players move to/from all over NZ so provincial allegiances don't mean much with the new SR contracting system.

    There was a story about Alaimalo's background during the Super season:

    https://www.stuff.co.nz/sport/rugby/super-rugby/94580135/solomon-alaimalo--from-northland-nobody-to-chiefs-super-rugby-wing-man



  • @Bovidae yeah I know that, and the new contracting model does seem for the most part to be evening things out with less players moving just for a Super contract...I mean despite our shit results of the past 2 seasons, we have our best Super rugby representation since, well probably ever!



  • Sounds like Matt Vaega will be with harbour again next year.

    http://lastwordonrugby.com/2017/09/07/rugby-genes-matt-vaega/

    As far as his career goes, Vaega is committed to the club for the next year. And while being a humble individual, he is a leader in the team. Given responsibilities within the side, that compliments his rugby-brain and consistency.



  • Be interesting to see if Perofeta gets some time at fullback next season. Gives a second playmaker, and could allow an extra forward reserve to beef up the pack in the last 30 mins.

    I know I'm a broken record, but we could really do with a slick passing halfback to give the backline that bit more space and time.

    Gatland and Mo'unga are the form 1st 5s of the NPC so far. Perofeta and Black are going well too.

    Hopefully those frontrow reserves can put some heat on at scrum time.

    1 Pauliasi Manu
    2 James Parsons
    3 Ofa Tu'ungafasi
    4 Patrick Tuipulotu
    5 Scott Scrafton
    6 Jerome Kaino
    7 Blake Gibson
    8 Akira Ioane

    9 Augustine Pulu
    10 Bryn Gatland/Otere Black
    11 Melani Nanai
    12 SBW
    13 Rieko Ioane
    14 Matt Duffie
    15 Stephen Perofeta

    16 Matt Moulds
    17 Alex Hodgman
    18 Mike Tamoaieta
    19 Gerard Cowley-Tuioti
    20 Dalton Papali'i/Kara Pryor
    21 Manihera/Liavaa-Moala/Jimmy Tupou

    22 Sam Nock
    23 George Moala/TJ Faiane/Matt Vaega



  • @Tim That is an excellent idea. I'll be pleasantly surprised if it happens though - they'll stick Collins at fullback and Moala will clog up the midfield (SBW is bound to be injured).



  • @Tim Manihera has signed with the Blues?



  • @Stargazer Nope, but he's one of options I suspect will be available to sign. IIRC, Bovidae pointed out that there isn't room for him at the Chiefs.



  • @Tim Matich is another that could be an option for the squad, has been in Blues dev system (and Auckland) heard he was very close to nabbing a super contract this year (not with Blues)

    I'm a big fan of his, huge motor on him and accurate.



  • Mark Telea looked pretty handy on the wing against Counties.



  • @Tim

    Are there loose forward spots open?

    Papali'i has definitely signed and I thought Fa'anana-Shultz had as well?

    Luatua is gone.. who else from this years squad misses out? Taramai and/or Nansen maybe?



  • @Duluth Taramai is gone apparently. Wouldn't be surprised if Nanson misses a lock/loose-forward spot.

    Only thing I've seen about Fa'anana-Shultz was in this Australian article, which is hardly conclusive.

    http://www.theleader.com.au/story/4689421/rebels-lose-young-star-sydney-uni-clash/

    The Waratahs decided against taking him on but two New Zealand-based Super Rugby clubs, believed to be the Hurricanes and the Blues, have swooped, with both the Wellington and Auckland-based clubs said to be keen on his services.



  • @Duluth I have only watched two Tasman games so far but I like the look of Shannon Frizzell. His brother plays for the St George Dragons and the Kangaroos I believe. If there is a spot open at the Blues and if he hasn't been picked for another franchise yet, they should look at him. He can play 6,8 and lock which is always useful in a squad make-up.



  • As we have already signed four players who can play 6 (excluding Cowley-Tuioti and Tuipulotu), and three who can play 7, a specialist 8 is probably top priority.



  • @Tim said in Blues 2018:

    Taramai is gone apparently

    Offshore or just not wanted?



  • @Duluth Not wanted according to Ian Jones' comments during the Harbour/Auckland match.



  • Its a travesty when you think of some of the players that have been either playing in Auckland,wether it be at secondary schools or club level or in the case of players that were in the Blues squad.
    Solomon Alaimalo who was in the Blues development squad last year,but was offered a wider training squad contract,hence he went to the chiefs..
    God I could right a list,Taleni Seu same deal,offered a wider training contract,decided to go to the chiefs,watched him play for G/Tech back in Auckland club rugby back in 2015,you could see he was an outstanding prospect even then.

    Suia Halanukonuka is another example of a tighthead prop who also played for G/Tech who was told by the Blues he was too fat,and not fit enough,but considered one of the best tighthead scrummaging props in Auckland club rugby.went to the Highlanders via Counties Manukau & Tasman.

    Even Aaron Smith was in the Blues wider training squad in 2010,what a screw up that one was..

    This is only a handful of examples from the Blues not having the foresight or ability to select a half decent player if they tried.

    Just on the other side of the coin,I can remember when the Blues signed Toby Morland,and for Auckland,an Andy Dalton special..!,Morland was not even the starting halfback at Otago..signed the same year Aaron Smith was in the Blues wider training squad..

    And what makes it worse,Ant Strahan was the high performance manager,you would think he would be able to spot a half decent halfback...!



  • @Steven-Harris said in Blues 2018:

    Its a travesty when you think of some of the players that have been either playing in Auckland,wether it be at secondary schools or club level or in the case of players that were in the Blues squad.
    Solomon Alaimalo who was in the Blues development squad last year,but was offered a wider training squad contract,hence he went to the chiefs..
    God I could right a list,Taleni Seu same deal,offered a wider training contract,decided to go to the chiefs,watched him play for G/Tech back in Auckland club rugby back in 2015,you could see he was an outstanding prospect even then.

    Suia Halanukonuka is another example of a tighthead prop who also played for G/Tech who was told by the Blues he was too fat,and not fit enough,but considered one of the best tighthead scrummaging props in Auckland club rugby.went to the Highlanders via Counties Manukau & Tasman.

    Even Aaron Smith was in the Blues wider training squad in 2010,what a screw up that one was..

    This is only a handful of examples from the Blues not having the foresight or ability to select a half decent player if they tried.

    Just on the other side of the coin,I can remember when the Blues signed Toby Morland,and for Auckland,an Andy Dalton special..!,Morland was not even the starting halfback at Otago..signed the same year Aaron Smith was in the Blues wider training squad..

    And what makes it worse,Ant Strahan was the high performance manager,you would think he would be able to spot a half decent halfback...!

    So @Steven-Harris do you reckon that selection and pathway issues are the root cause of the Blues problems (and now that has filtered back to Auckland as well?)
    Is it poor selection abilities and lack of longer term planning or is it more that they struggle to see the wood for the trees?

    Edit: Looking at the latest Sec Schools selection I wonder if there are actually any trees as well

    The region seems to be in a mess.



  • @Steven-Harris said in Blues 2018:

    Suia Halanukonuka is another example of a tighthead prop who also played for G/Tech who was told by the Blues he was too fat,and not fit enough,but considered one of the best tighthead scrummaging props in Auckland club rugby.went to the Highlanders via Counties Manukau & Tasman.

    An Auckland scrum with Halanukonuka, Tamoaieta, Hodgman, and Manu as the props would be rather more impressive.



  • @Crucial said in Blues 2018:

    The region seems to be in a mess.

    Harbour seems to be in good shape now. U19s knocked off Wellington on the weekend.



  • @Crucial Someone needs to remind all the so called people who have been involved in Blues & Auckland Rugby,that the games still starts up front.

    You look at a team like the highlanders,not the biggest pack around,but they work their arses off when they have the ball,and even harder when they are in defence.

    Takes a very good selector/coach to work what sort of player he wants,and how he could gel them together..
    I suspect both the Blues & Auckland have missed a trick.

    Dave Rennie in his first year with the chiefs showed what an absolute genius he was picking a squad that had several players or more outside the chiefs franchise..and we all know how that season panned out..!



  • @Steven-Harris The other one that gets me recently is having Michael Fatialofa get away to the Canes. The guy came back to Auckland (where he was an age grade star) for the specific reason to crack Super Rugby. Blues were in dire need of locks and this was in the leadup to Tana's first year. A woeful decision was made (I think prior to the NPC) to sign Hoani Matenga (an absolute journeyman who didn't even play NPC and biggest claim to fame involves being involved in Six60) which meant they did not have room to sign Fatialofa. Fatialofa goes on to have an outstanding NPC, look every inch a Super Rugby quality player, and goes on to win Canes rookie of the year honours. What the actual fuck.



  • @KiwiMurph said in Blues 2018:

    Michael Fatialofa

    Apparently he's with the Hurricanes next year too, sadly enough.

    "I was stoked to even get a cap for the Hurricanes. I went down there not knowing if I would get an opportunity. To end up playing most of the games and starting in the finals was a big achievement for me. I enjoyed playing with those boys, guys like Dane Coles and Victor Vito," says the Ponsonby second-rower, who has two more seasons to run on his Hurricanes contract.



  • @Tim Yep I don't see him coming back. Thankfully the Blues have a decent set of locks themselves now finally.

    Blues need to throw everything at Enari for the 3rd halfback role - 3 year contract - whatever it takes. Cripes the kid is related to Michael Jones and Eroni Clarke.



  • be interesting to know if they record detailed stats around players that go from Dev/WTG squads into fully contracted players from the Franchises (like those in the Blues Dev/WTG that go on to the Blues or if they go to which other teams, Chiefs Dev/WTG to Chiefs or which other teams and so on)



  • @taniwharugby said in Blues 2018:

    be interesting to know if they record detailed stats around players that go from Dev/WTG squads into fully contracted players from the Franchises (like those in the Blues Dev/WTG that go on to the Blues or if they go to which other teams, Chiefs Dev/WTG to Chiefs or which other teams and so on)

    Funny. After all these years when you Northland supporters pissed and moaned about your lot not making the Blues squad, you may actually have a legitimate argumant for the first time! 🙂



  • @Hooroo TBF, this super rugby season we had probably our best ever representation at Super level, after arguably our 2 poorest seasons this century, so work that one out!

    Don't know that we will pick up any new ones for next year, even if there are a few that will be knocking loudly.

    Oh, and as for your pissing and moaning comment, you sir, are a FLUFFYBUNNY!!



  • @taniwharugby said in Blues 2018:

    @Hooroo TBF, this super rugby season we had probably our best ever representation at Super level, after arguably our 2 poorest seasons this century, so work that one out!

    Don't know that we will pick up any new ones for next year, even if there are a few that will be knocking loudly.

    No idea what spots are available around the traps, but off the top of my head all of the following could have a shot:
    Olsen, Waa, Sililoto, Bond, Matich, Tua. I'd also say Ross Wright too, but his ship might have already sailed.



  • @taniwharugby said in Blues 2018:

    TBF, this super rugby season we had probably our best ever representation at Super level, after arguably our 2 poorest seasons this century!

    Yup, before this seasons results Northland has slowly built its SR representation. Four franchises have Northland players now.
    Of course those that don't make the cut have been rejected by 5 different sets of selectors..

    It's circular, success builds success.. those SR players coming back to Northland have raised the standards


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