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Auckland Blues to battle Fijian Drua at Eden Park

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Staff Reporter

05 June 2024, 8:06 PM

Auckland Blues to battle Fijian Drua at Eden ParkConsistency in selection is key.

Anticipation is building as the Auckland Blues prepare to face the Fijian Drua in the DHL Super Rugby Pacific Quarter-Final this Saturday night at Eden Park.

Kick-off is set for 7:05pm with a large crowd expected to fill the stadium.

Blues Head Coach Vern Cotter has shown confidence in his squad by making minimal changes to the team that secured their place in the quarter-finals.

The only adjustment in the starting lineup is the inclusion of Josh Beehre, who replaces Sam Darry due to concussion protocols.

In the backs, Rieko Ioane returns to the center, partnering with AJ Lam, while Harry Plummer and Stephen Perofeta resume their roles at first five-eight and fullback, respectively.

The dynamic wings, Mark Tele’a and Caleb Clarke, will look to maintain their attacking prowess.

“There’s no tomorrow if you lose these games, so we need to be accurate, disciplined, and clear in what we want to achieve against the Drua,” said Cotter.

He emphasised the physical challenge that the Fijian side is known for and stressed the importance of mental preparation for what promises to be a bruising encounter.

Starting XV:

1. Ofa Tu’ungafasi

2. Ricky Riccitelli

3. Marcel Renata

4. Patrick Tuipulotu (c)

5. Josh Beehre

6. Akira Ioane

7. Dalton Papali’i

8. Hoskins Sotutu

9. Finlay Christie

10. Harry Plummer

11. Caleb Clarke

12. AJ Lam

13. Rieko Ioane

14. Mark Tele’a

15. Stephen Perofeta


16. Kurt Eklund

17. Joshua Fusitu’a

18. Angus Ta’avao

19. Cameron Suafoa

20. Adrian Choat

21. Taufa Funaki

22. Corey Evans

23. Cole Forbes

Not considered:

Lucas Cashmore (hamstring), Sam Darry (concussion protocol), Bryce Heem (calf), Jordan Lay (ankle, season), Laghlan McWhannell (concussion protocol), Zarn Sullivan (knee)

Cotter called on Blues fans to replicate last weekend’s enthusiastic turnout, which saw 22,000 supporters energise the team.

“A big, loud, and passionate crowd really does lift the team,” he said.

“We’ll be doing everything we can to put on a good show and make our fans proud.”

Tickets for the match are selling fast, with fans eager to witness what promises to be a thrilling encounter at Eden Park.

As the Blues gear up for this crucial match, the team’s focus and the backing of their fans will be pivotal in their quest to advance in the Super Rugby Pacific tournament.