Super Rugby Pacific: Beauden Barrett to captain the Blues against the Fijian Drua

·2-min read
 Credit: PA Images
Credit: PA Images

Blues head coach Leon MacDonald has rung the changes to his run-on side for Saturday’s Super Rugby Pacific encounter against the Fijian Drua in Melbourne.

There are nine alterations in all with All Blacks fly-half Beauden Barrett taking over the captaincy from first choice skipper Dalton Papalii, who has been rested.

New half-back partner for Barrett

In the backline, Barrett will form a half-back partnership with Taufa Funaki, who comes in at scrum-half for Finlay Christie while Jacob Ratumaitavuki-Kneepkens gets a start at full-back where he takes over from Stephen Perofeta. The final change in the backline sees Roger Tuivasa-Sheck returning to the starting line-up at inside centre at the expense of Bryce Heem.

There are several changes in the forwards with Adrian Choat replacing Papalii on the openside flank and he joins Hoskins Sotutu (number eight) and Tom Robinson (blindside flanker) in the back-row.

There’s a new-look second-row with Sam Darry and James Tucker starting in place of Josh Goodhue and Luke Romano, who is amongst the replacements. The final changes are in the front-row where Nepo Laulala takes over from fellow All Black Ofa Tuungafasi at tighthead prop while Ricky Riccitelli and Jordan Lay take over from Kurt Eklund and Alex Hodgman at hooker and loosehead prop respectively.

MacDonald said his team are excited by the challenge against the Fijian Drua and hopes to get the Australian phase of Super Rugby Pacific underway with a polished performance.

“The Australian teams will bring some of the same but some things different. We recognise this and must adjust quickly to what they will throw at us,” he told the Blues’ official website.

“In some ways getting to play the Fijian Drua first-up is some help because they bring that same physical presence and off-loading abilities that we have encountered against Moana Pasifika.”

Blues: 15 Jacob Ratumaitavuki-Kneepkens, 14 Mark Telea, 13 Rieko Ioane, 12 Roger Tuivasa-Sheck, 11 AJ Lam, 10 Beauden Barrett (c), 9 Taufa Funaki, 8 Hoskins Sotutu, 7 Adrian Choat, 6 Tom Robinson, 5 Sam Darry, 4 James Tucker, 3 Nepo Laulala, 2 Ricky Riccitelli, 1 Jordan Lay
Replacements: 16 Soane Vikena, 17 Karl Tu’inukuafe, 18 Marcel Renata, 19 Luke Romano, 20 Anton Segner, 21 Lisati Milo Harris, 22 Tanielu Tele’a, 23 Jock McKenzie

Date: Saturday, April 23
Venue: AAMI Park, Melbourne
Kick-off: 17:05 local (08:05 BST, 07:05 GMT)
Referee: Paul Williams (New Zealand)
Assistant referees: Nic Berry (Australia), Angus Mabey (New Zealand)

READ MORE: Super Rugby Pacific Team Tracker: Quinn Tupaea starts on the wing for the Chiefs against the Waratahs

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