DHL Super Rugby Pacific: Grand Final Teams

Patty T

The hosts have received a major boost with the return of captain and All Black Patrick Tuipulotu for Saturday's decider.

Tuipulotu has made a timely recovery from an MCL injury suffered in the quarter-final win over the Fijian Drua.

It was originally rumoured that the injury would keep him out until the start of the Test season.

However, the Blues have named their captain to return in place of Josh Beehre in the second row. 

"Patty’s a Blues man through and through and came to us this week pretty keen to play in a Grand Final,” said coach Vern Cotter.

“He tested the knee on Monday in the gym, then on the grass yesterday. He’s pulled up well and has the all-clear from our medical team – he’s a welcome addition to our pack, our talisman lock and leader."

Meanwhile, the Chiefs are counting the cost of a physical semi-final after losing All Blacks hooker Samisoni Taukei'aho.

Taukei'aho suffered a leg injury in the win over the Hurricanes, coming off after the 20th minute.

Tyrone Thompson has been thrown in for his first start of 2024, with Bradley Slater coming off the bench.

Slater also came off late with a knock, with Thompson last starting for the Chiefs in round 15 2023 against the Western Force.

The visitors were boosted by the return of fullback Shaun Stevenson, a late withdrawal due to a hamstring complaint.

Coach Clayton McMillan has made one change to the bench, with Manaaki Selby-Rickit in for Naitoa Ah Kuoi.

Saturday 22 June:  Blues v Chiefs at Eden Park, Auckland (7:05 pm NZT/5:05 PM AEST)

BLUES (1-15): Ofa Tu'ungafasi, Ricky Riccitelli, Marcel Renata, Patrick Tuipulotu (c), Sam Darry, Akira Ioane, Dalton Papali'i, Hoskins Sotutu, Finlay Christie, Harry Plummer, Caleb Clarke, AJ Lam, Rieko Ioane, Mark Tele'a, Stephen Perofeta

RESERVES: Kurt Eklund, Joshua Fusitu'a, Angus Ta'avao, Josh Beehre, Adrian Choat, Taufa Funaki, Bryce Heem, Cole Forbes

CHIEFS (1-15): Aidan Ross, Tyrone Thompson, George Dyer, Jimmy Tupou, Tupou Vaa'i, Samipeni Finau, Luke Jacobson (c), Wallace Sititi, Cortez Ratima, Damian McKenzie, Etene Nanai Seturo, Rameka Poihipi, Anton Lienert-Brown, Emoni Narawa, Shaun Stevenson

RESERVES: Bradley Slater, Jared Proffit, Reuben O'Neill, Manaaki Selby-Rickit, Simon Parker, Xavier Roe, Quinn Tupaea, Daniel Rona

Referee: Nic Berry

Assistant Referees: Jordan Way, Damon Murphy