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Side from the big smoke looks capable of going all the way

21 February 2022
blues super rugby 2022 headshots session_roger tuivasa sheck

This Otago Daily Times series looks at the fortunes of the 12 teams in the new Super Rugby Pacific competition. Hayden Meikle finds out more about the Blues.

Coach: Leon MacDonald enters his fourth season, and the Blues seem reasonably happy with him. Even if he came from red-and-black country.

Star forward: Akira Ioane. An excitement machine who is part of a dazzling loose forward trio that has the potential to be the best in the competition.

Star back: Beauden Barrett is the poster boy, and Rieko Ioane and Caleb Clarke the magicians out wide. But there is lots to like about halfback Finlay Christie, who surged up the ranks last year, and he could be the key to making this team hum.

Exciting prospect: RTS. You know you are special when you are known by three letters. The presence of Roger Tuivasa-Sheck means there will be more attention on the Blues than ever. He was a wondrous rugby league player — can he make a successful switch to union?

Nickname (rated out of 10): 3. We’ve been over this before. Teams just shouldn’t be named after colours. "Blues" is meaningless. "I’m a Blue and I’m proud of it" is meaningless. Sigh.

Jersey (rated out of 10): 7. Good jersey. It would be a point or two higher were it not for the most garish sponsor logo on the front of a Super Rugby jersey.

Random player from history: Vula Maimuri.

Wait, he plays on this team?: Ricky Riccitelli (still one of the best names in the competition) heads north after playing 71 games for the Hurricanes.

Last year: Pretty good. Third in Super Rugby Aotearoa (four wins, four losses — two of which were by a whisker). Then rolled through Super Rugby Transtasman (like all the New Zealand teams) before beating the Highlanders in the final. Was it a real Super Rugby title? That’s up for debate.

Predicted finish: Champions. Gulp. Yes, some of us are tipping the Blues to win Super Rugby Pacific. Call me a fool but this looks like a team capable of going all the way. The Blues are loaded at prop and loose forward. Christie and Barrett give them an inside back combination as good as any. Rieko Ioane and a resurgent Caleb Clarke and a rising Zarn Sullivan are attacking weapons. And Tuivasa-Sheck, well, who knows?

Republished courtesy of the Otago Daily Times.

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