Highlanders vs Blues



  • A bunch of All Blacks mixed with daring debutants will open the Blues Investec Super Rugby season against the Highlanders in Dunedin on Friday.

    Head coach Tana Umaga today named six current and three former All Blacks in his squad for the opener at Forsyth Barr Stadium, while there are four players to make their Super Rugby debuts and two others wearing the Blues jersey for the first time.

    The Blues backline looks full of attacking flair, including Rieko Ioane, Matt Duffie, Sonny Bill Williams and George Moala, who cemented the Blues’ victory at the recent Brisbane Global 10s.

    New captain Augustine Pulu starts at halfback inside Bryn Gatland, who has his fifth game for the Blues at first five, on the back of some strong performances last year.

    Experienced James Parsons is flanked in the front row by All Black scrummaging powerhouse Ofa Tuungafasi and Alex Hodgman, who gets his second start after a standout season for Canterbury in the ITM Cup.

    Scott Scrafton and Gerard Cowley-Tuioti, who proved themselves as a key pairing in Super Rugby last year, will start together in the middle row for the ninth time, with an in-form Akira Ioane at No8 with two North Harbour loose forwards in Murphy Taramai and Glenn Preston.

    All Black Patrick Tuipulotu, back after a niggling injury, will come off the bench as well Blues newcomers Leni Apisai, Mike Tamoaieta, Jonathan Ruru, Daniel Kirkpatrick and loose forward brackets, Antonio Kiri Kiri and Sione Havili.

    The Blues have 12 players not considered because of injury, including Jerome Kaino and Jimmy Tupou, who coach Umaga is giving an additional week to shake off minor injuries.

    It is an important opening game for the Blues who enjoyed a productive pre-season that included the victory at Brisbane.

    “Everyone is excited to get the season underway and I’m pleased with the attitude and application from our players in pre-season,” said Umaga.

    “We continued to improve last year but we know that we need to do better against our fellow New Zealand teams, especially with two full derby rounds this year, and also deliver on those key moments in what is going to be a very tight and tough season.

    “We have a few players with longer-term injuries, and some with lesser injuries that could have possibly played if pushed, but this is a long season and player welfare is really important.”

    The team is:

    Alex Hodgman, 2. James Parsons, 3. Ofa Tuungafasi, 4. Gerard Cowley-Tuioti, 5. Scott Scrafton, 6. Glenn Preston, 7. Murphy Taramai, 8. Akira Ioane; 9. Augustine Pulu ©, 10. Bryn Gatland, 11. Rieko Ioane, 12. Sonny Bill Williams, 13. George Moala, 14. Matt Duffie,15. Michael Collins.
    Reserves: 16. Leni Apisai, 17. Pauliasi Manu, 18. Michael Tamoaieta, 19. Patrick Tuipulotu, 20 Sione Havili/Antonio Kiri Kiri, 21. Jonathan Ruru, 22. Daniel Kirkpatrick, 23. Melani Nanai.

    Players not considered because of injury: Otere Black (knee), Blake Gibson (shoulder), Matt Moulds (knee), Dalton Papalii (hand), Stephen Perofeta (hand), Kara Pryor (ankle), TJ Faiane (calf), Jerome Kaino (ankle), Isaac Salmon (elbow), Jimmy Tupou (rib), Sione Mafileo (knee).



  • Michael fucking collins. I can feel a Davidav/Toeavaesque relationship building. Lets hope he can show more than "good organisation" this year.



  • So Collins is slow...coming off a major leg injury...and starting fullback in a game which is guaranteed to be fast paced under the roof...what could possibly go wrong...

    Hopefully Havili gets the nod on the bench.



  • And here's the link for that squad list & article on the Blues website: http://theblues.co.nz/team-named-investec-super-rugby-opener/



  • If we (The Highlanders) don't win well f*%k me!
    very under-whelming Blues team. Forwards look vulnerable.
    in saying that we started 0/4 last year so who knows. these locals derbies are always at couple steps-up to there games.



  • Should be a good atmosphere

    A crowd of about 16,000 is expected to roll up for the first game of the Super Rugby season in New Zealand when the Highlanders host the Blues on Friday night.
    


  • @98blueandgold Sorry mate, that is a very strong Blues forward pack, Michael Collins not playing any pre-season is the only question I have about this Team selection.



  • Well, back to reality. That's a lot of injuries in the loose forwards.



  • Michael Collins!!!

    I think we can conclude that, Tana:

    a. Doesn't read the fern; OR

    b. If he does he pays it no attention; OR

    c. He's got a fucking good sense of humour! 🙂



  • @chris-b said in Highlanders vs Blues:

    Michael Collins!!!

    I think we can conclude that, Tana:

    a. Doesn't read the fern; OR

    b. If he does he pays it no attention; OR

    c. He's got a fucking good sense of humour! 🙂

    I fully expect Nanai to run out with the 15 jersey and a sign saying "just fucking with you guys"



  • what is the hard on for Collins? Super rugby isn't test rugby, you pick the best attacking players you can find. Collins is not, nor will he ever be, an attacking player.

    Of the few NPC games i got to watch last year, i saw the Northland loosies give it to BOP, where are those guys playing?



  • @mariner4life He did a fantastic job piloting the command module for Apollo XI?

    As I recall he was pretty outstanding vs the BIL.



  • @mariner4life Kara Pryor is injured, Dan Pryor is at the Highlanders. Bond is at the Hurricanes.



  • @tim said in Highlanders vs Blues:

    @mariner4life Kara Pryor is injured, Dan Pryor is at the Highlanders. Bond is at the Hurricanes.

    that's them, the Pryor boys, was very impressed. thanks



  • @chris-b said in Highlanders vs Blues:

    @mariner4life He did a fantastic job piloting the command module for Apollo XI?

    As I recall he was pretty outstanding vs the BIL.

    Yes - his best game was against the European side and his worst games were in the fast-paced NZ derbies. His lack of pace/athletic ability gets exposed badly in NZ derbies.



  • @kiwimurph

    You just need the Highlanders to play down to the BILs level.



  • Highlanders have named a defensive midfield , by leaving Matt Faddes on the bench, although I'm slightly concerned about Tei taking on a much bigger SBW. While Blues fans may be happy with their forward pack, I can see the Highlsnders dominating there and disrupting ball to the Blues flashy backs. I'm going to say Highlanders by 12 to 18.
    Daniel Lienert-Brown
    Ash Dixon (cc)
    Siate Tokolahi
    Jackson Hemopo
    Tom Franklin
    Liam Squire
    Dillon Hunt
    Luke Whitelock
    Aaron Smith
    Lima Sopoaga
    Tevita Li
    Teihorangi Walden
    Rob Thompson
    Waisake Naholo
    Ben Smith (cc)
    Liam Coltman
    Aki Seiuli
    Tyrel Lomax
    Dan Pryor
    Elliot Dixon
    Kayne Hammington
    Fletcher Smith
    Matt Faddes



  • @bovidae well both the Blues and Highlanders did beat them....



  • @southernmann said in Highlanders vs Blues:

    While Blues fans may be happy with their forward pack, I can see the Highlsnders dominating there and disrupting ball to the Blues flashy backs. I'm going to say Highlanders by 12 to 18.

    Don't sit on the fence - back your team!



  • @kiwimurph I just can't see the Blues getting a lot of decent ball to play with. I also don't believe Bryn Gatland's style fits in with the rest of the Blues backline.



  • @tim Murray Douglas was playing 6 and is at 'canes, Bond is currently overseas I believe.

    v BOP that was Kara Pryors best game all season, but I think he had a niggly injury all season



  • Our tight five is good, with some handy players to bring on, but our loose forwards will probably struggle. Highlanders by less than 10.



  • @daffy-jaffy said in Highlanders vs Blues:

    James Parsons is flanked in the front row by All Black scrummaging powerhouse Ofa Tuungafasi

    Haha





  • Collins is a FB version of Hadleigh Parkes imo - a decent whack of rugby nous and decent skills, but utterly lacking in pace. Vision doesn't do you much good if you can't drop the hammer (or give it full fucking jandel) and take that gap!



  • @kiwimurph said in Highlanders vs Blues:

    @sammyc ?

    Scrummaging powerhouse is a bit of an exaggeration



  • @sammyc said in Highlanders vs Blues:

    @kiwimurph said in Highlanders vs Blues:

    @sammyc ?

    Scrummaging powerhouse is a bit of an exaggeration

    Not when your loosehead prop in previous seasons has been Sam Prattley....



  • Happy enough with the tight five, it's what I would have picked.

    The inexperienced loosies are all ok players but the chances of them all adapting to this level quickly are slim. Taramai had a few chances last year and couldn't replicate his NPC form, he needs to improve.
    I would have been tempted to start GCT on the blindside and had 2 loosies on the bench.

    11-14 is good

    Collins. Yuck. Maybe he got the nod because in its in Dunedin? But more likely it's just because the coach who cannot be criticised is a retard.

    A lot depends on Gatland's form. He was shitty in the warm up matches. Fingers crossed that some of Pulu's passes are accurate.





  • Looks like our usual 4-6 point loss against fellow NZ opposition is coming up to start the season off. Pretty average looking side we've put out with the injuries we have but at the same time it's good to see some North Harbour boys get a go after a good Mitre 10 cup.



  • Quite excited to see Hemopo actually after his cameos last year. I'll be watching this from a pub in Taupo at normal time is probably why I'm excited over something so trivial. God it's good being back in the land.



  • So ... Nanai. What's his downside?

    Must have quite a big downside given he's missing out to a glue player.



  • @booboo said in Highlanders vs Blues:

    So ... Nanai. What's his downside?

    Must have quite a big downside given he's missing out to a glue player.

    If you read the article it's about communication. Can be pretty key in some setups and you have to balance out what he may do in a possible opportunity against being more organised during most of the game.
    As an ex player at top level in 12,13 and 14, T will have strong ideas about what he wants in communication from the back.
    Factor in the stress at 10 and I can understand the reasoning. Whether the decision is correct will play out.



  • @crucial The problem is this exact same approach failed in the NZ derbies last year. Collins lack of athletic ability got exposed in NZ derbies - Blues got away with it against the Aussie teams but not so the NZ derbies.

    I just think the balance of the backline is off. Gatland has next to no running threat (he's 3rd string for a reason), SBW and Moala have distribution limitations and Collins is a carthorse at the back. I can't see the two All Black wingers getting the ball in any space.



  • @kiwimurph

    Umaga made the same comments about Collins last year and he barely played in pre season. Does that mean he's happy with what he saw last year??

    Also Collins is hardly some experienced older head. I think you would get the same attributes from Duffie at the back but with a significant quality upgrade.

    Nanai is at his best on the wing where being a ball hog is less of an issue.



  • @duluth exactly. Plus Collins is coming off a serious leg injury (he was already slow to begin with) and the game is guaranteed to be fast paced under the roof and with the way the Highlanders play.



  • This is a massive game for the Blues. Our competition is basically the battle for 4/5 in the NZ conference. Last year we lost two tight ones; hoping this time to get up and get a win.

    Fark me though, it feels too soon for footy. Last year our season was over before the cricket season finished 😐



  • Why did Nanai re-sign with us last year?

    Backrow looks underwhelming, but Taramai has had a good pre-season, so hopefully he's due for a better second season.

    Rieko and Duffie might have to get their attacking opportunities from kicks.

    @duluth said in Highlanders vs Blues:

    Fingers crossed that some of Pulu's passes are accurate.

    Most fans would want most of their halfback's passes to be accurate, but we just want 'some'.😄

    I could live with some bad passes if he played with tempo.



  • @dice surely with Pulu, it should be hopefully Pulu simply passes, good bad or otherwise...



  • Ha, TJ as the commentator.


Log in to reply