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Meet the Blues class of 2019

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Sunday, December 2, 2018    allblacks.com    Getty Images

Meet the Blues players who have picked up a fulltime Investec Super Rugby contract for the first time in 2019.

Karl Tu’inukuafe

DOB: 21/02/1993
Position: Prop
Mitre 10 Cup team: North Harbour
The scoop: The only current All Black among the 2019 group of Investec Super Rugby newcomers, Karl Tu’inukuafe enjoyed a well-documented rise in 2018 from nightclub bouncer and Chiefs injury replacement to frontline All Black prop and World Rugby Breakthrough of the Year award nominee. Tu’inukuafe has become such a household name in 2018 that it is hard to believe this is his first fulltime Super Rugby contract. An immensely powerful scrummager, Tu’inukaufe will form the nucleus of an imposing Blues front row alongside Ofa Tuungafasi, James Parsons, Leni Apisai and impressive youngster Ezekiel Lindenmuth.

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Ezekiel Lindenmuth
DOB: 14/07/97
Position: Prop
Mitre 10 Cup Team: Auckland
The scoop: A towering presence at 1.86cm and 118kg, Ezekiel Lindenmuth has come through the ranks with the Blues development programme and the New Zealand Under 20s. Although he only made his Mitre 10 Cup debut for Auckland in 2018, Lindenmuth’s promise was noticed by the Crusaders who pulled the youngster into their squad as injury cover during the 2018 season.

Jacob Pierce
DOB: 10/09/97
Position: Lock
Mitre 10 Cup Team: North Harbour
The scoop: Another player to cut his teeth in the Blues development programme, towering lock Jacob Pierce made a good impression in two appearances for the Blues in 2018. The 2.02cm second-rower went onto have a tidy campaign for North Harbour in the Mitre 10 Cup and was rewarded with a Blues contract for the 2019 season. While effective in the air, Pierce is also noted for his high work rate and deceptive pace with ball in hand. 

Tom Robinson
DOB: 10/11/94
Position: Lock/loose forward
Mitre 10 Cup Team: Northland
The scoop: Largely unknown before the start of the 2018 Mitre 10 Cup season, versatile lock/loose forward Tom Robinson was one of Northland’s most consistent performers as they qualified for the Championship semifinals. While solid at set-piece and powerful in the tackle, Robinson’s dynamic ball-running also caught the eye in 2018. With an ability to cover both lock and loose forward, Robinson’s versatility is sure to come in handy for the Blues in 2019.
Marcel Renata
DOB: 24/02/94
Position: Prop
Mitre 10 Cup Team: Auckland
The scoop: A full-time Super Rugby contract has been a long-time coming for prop Marcel Renata who has racked up 32 provincial caps for Auckland and a number of appearances for the Maori All Blacks since 2016. The gifted tight-head prop got a taste of Super Rugby in 2018 when he was drafted into the Hurricanes and made his debut against the eventual champions the Crusaders. A player that throws his body into all of the physical exchanges, Renata will not disappoint when he gets a chance in the Blues jersey in 2019.

Hoskins Sotutu

DOB: 12/07/98
Position: Loose forward
Mitre 10 Cup Team: Auckland
The scoop: Although just 20-years-old, dynamic loose forward Hoskins Sotutu has already tasted plenty of success in his burgeoning rugby career. In 2017, Sotutu was a vital cog in Auckland’s victory at the Jock Hobbs Under 19 tournament before helping the Blues to the Brisbane Tens title in early 2018. The 116kg powerhouse then played a vital role in Auckland’s memorable 2018 Mitre 10 Cup Premiership campaign. Blues fans will be hoping that Sotutu’s golden touch continues into the 2019 season.

Harry Plummer
DOB: 19/06/98
Position: First five-eighth
Mitre 10 Cup Team: Auckland
The scoop: After guiding Auckland to the their first national title in 10 years, young pivot Harry Plummer has deservedly secured his first Super Rugby contract with the Blues. Plummer was a superb backline general for Auckland, with his tactical play, accurate goal-kicking and defensive organisation belying his young age. If Plummer can transfer his form from Mitre 10 Cup to Super Rugby, then he will push Otere Black and Stephen Perofeta for the starting number 10 jersey.

Tanielu Tele'a
DOB: 16/06/98
Position: Wing/Centre
Mitre 10 Cup Team: Auckland
The scoop: A dynamic mid-fielder who has represented both Samoa and New Zealand at Under 20s level, Tanielu Tele’a is ready to make the step up to Super Rugby in 2019. Tele’a is one of a host of players in the Blues squad in 2019 who tasted success for Auckland in the Mitre 10 Cup. The talented 20-year-old can cover both mid-field and wing will learn a lot from experienced players like Ma’a Nonu, Sonny Bill Williams and Rieko Ioane in 2019.