Team Preview 2020: The Blues

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Home: Eden Park

Last Season: 13

 

Squad (* = Rookie):

Beauden Barrett, Otere Black, Aaron Carroll*, Finlay Christie, Caleb Clarke, Gerard Cowley-Tuioti, Matt Duffie, Kurt Eklund*, TJ Faiane, Blake Gibson, Josh Goodhue, Jack Heighton*, Alex Hodgman, Jordan Hyland*, Akira Ioane, Rieko Ioane, Tony Lamborn, Ezekiel Lindenmuth, Sione Mafileo, Joe Marchant, Emoni Narawa*, Ray Niuia, Sam Nock, Jared Page*, Dalton Papalii, James Parsons, Stephen Perofeta, Jacob Pierce, Harry Plummer, Marcel Renata, Waimana Riedlinger-Kapa*, Tom Robinson, Jonathan Ruru, Hoskins Sotutu, Mark Telea*, Tanielu Tele'a, James Tucker, Karl Tu'inukuafe, Patrick Tuipulotu, Ofa Tuungafasi.

 

Game breaker:

When you think of game-breakers you can easily default to block busting mid-fielders or electric outside backs. But one of the Blues most dangerous game-breakers lurks in their forward pack. Powerful No.8 Akira Ioane is a threat from the back of the scrum and has the ability to swat aside or trample over the hardiest of defenders in Super Rugby. At 24-years-old, Ioane is no longer the new kid on the block and will be looking to step up as one of the Blues premier players as they seek overdue success in the 2020 season.

Key signing:

Have the Blues ever made a more crucial signing than first five-eighth Beauden Barrett? Fans have lamented the lack of a world class pivot as the reason why the Blues haven’t added to their three Super Rugby titles since their last success in 2003 when Carlos Spencer was in the 10 jersey. The signing of Barrett has been met with a wave of optimism by Blues fans who are excited by the potential of a backline featuring two of the All Blacks most potent attacking weapons in the form of Barrett and Rieko Ioane. The former Hurricanes playmaker will miss the first few rounds of Super Rugby before making one of the most anticipated new team debuts in Super Rugby history.

 

Returning veteran:

Having made his debut for the Blues back in 2014, Patrick Tuipulotu has progressed onto become one of the most experienced and respected players in the Blues line-up. A natural leader, Tuipulotu never shirks any of the hard work and motivates his team-mates to follow his lead. Always relied upon to nail his core roles while providing impact with ball in hand and on defence, Tuipulotu will be a key cog in the Blues squad once again in 2020.

 

The Scoop:

So much has been made of Beauden Barrett’s signing for the Blues but it will take more than just one player to turn around the Blues fortunes. The good news for Blues fans is that they have proven talent and emerging stars stacked throughout their squad and boast able replacements to cover Barrett when he misses the first few rounds of the competition. If the Blues can start the season strongly, and remain injury free, they will be a big threat in 2020.