In the pack Kurt Eklund debuts at hooker, with USA international star Tony Lamborn in the back-row.
The other two possible debutants are Samoan player Ray Niuia and back Emoni Narawa, who are named among the replacements.
Speaking ahead of the game head coach Leon Macdonald is looking forward to getting the season underway and admits selecting his squad is more difficult than in the past with the new talent.
“The boys are proud to represent the club, the jersey and our region in this new season, and we are excited about the season ahead. Selection for this team is probably the toughest one that I have had in my time at the Blues, with a number of other players pushing hard for this first team. We have been pleased with the level of commitment, competition and performance, and especially from a number of new players to our club,” he said.
The new players will be joined in the squad by some All Black stars including Rieko Ioane, who is set to make his 50th appearance for the franchise, while Patrick Tuipulotu captains the side from the second-row.
The Blues will be hoping that their exciting looking squad can hit the ground running as they attempt to have a strong season following some disappointment in recent times.
Check Out the 23-Man Squad Below.
Matt Duffie, Mark Telea, Joe Marchant, TJ Faiane, Rieko Ioane, Stephen Perofeta, Jonathan Ruru, Hoskins Sotutu, Tony Lamborn, Dalton Papalii, Tom Robinson, Patrick Tuipulotu (c), Sione Mafileo, Kurt Eklund, Alex Hodgman
Ray Niuia, Karl Tu’inukuafe, Ofa Tu’ungafasi, Josh Goodhue, Blake Gibson, Sam Nock, Harry Plummer, Emoni Narawa
New Zealand Rugby Sides Facing Pay Cuts
New Zealand Rugby are preparing for the possibility of having to cut wages following the outbreak of the coronavirus
New Zealand Rugby Players’ Association chief executive Rob Nichol has admitted that there is a possibility of pay cuts among Super Rugby sides with the league in lockdown due to the coronavirus outbreak.
Over the weekend it was confirmed that Super Rugby would be suspended due to the coronavirus and there is a fear that the competition may not be completed this year.
Speaking on the situation, Nichol told Stuff that New Zealand’s five Super Rugby side are preparing for the worst.
“As it stands right now, things are kind of status quo. But we are not naive. We know there is going to be a commercial impact, we know we will have to sit around the table and work with the other stakeholders and be a part of the solution. And get things on an even keel once we understand what we are really dealing with,” he said.
There are a number of options over the remainder of the season being put forward, with only “derby matches” being played one of the possibilities.
That would mean a number of matches not being played and a loss in matchday revenue for the respective teams, but Nichol is ready for whatever happens as long as the people are looked after.
“Whatever we decide to do, it will be that kind of team approach. We know there is going to be commercial ramifications but first of all we will be doing what is right for the people,” he added.
There is no certainty over what is going to happen in the coming weeks and months, but the ramifications could be huge and Nichol finished by stating that however this ends all sides will work their hardest to make the most of a bad situation with clubs heading into the unknown at this moment in time.
Wallabies Ace Set for Stint on Sidelines
One of the Wallabies star players is set to be out of action for the next while due to an injury he picked up playing for the Brumbies last weekend
The 26-year-old Brumbies captain left the field of play before half-time in the Brumbies 47-13 win over the Waratahs and returned to the sidelines with his arm in a sling.
It has now been announced that he broke his arm during the game and is expected to miss around six weeks due to the injury with the club hoping to see their star man out on the pitch again soon.
“The Brumbies can confirm that captain Allan Alaalatoa suffered a broken arm in the match against the Waratahs. Get well soon skip!,” the Brumbies tweeted.
However, despite the injury it is unknown how many matches Alaalatoa will actually miss, if any at all with Super Rugby currently suspended due to the coronavirus outbreak meaning no matches are being played for the foreseeable future.
It could mean that he will be back in action along with his teammates whenever they return to play, whatever happens the hope is that the 37-cap Wallaby will be back to play as soon as possible.
Second South African Team in Isolation
Following the news yesterday that the Bulls would go into self-isolation a second South African team has announced it will do the same
The team played the Blues over the weekend, losing out 43-10 and after arriving home they have confirmed that they will self-isolate in order to try and prevent the spread of the coronavirus.
Speaking on the decision CEO of the side Rudolf Straeuli admitted that it is hard to do, but that health comes before all else in a situation like this.
“It is difficult circumstances, but people’s health come first. SANZAAR is in ongoing discussions with broadcasters and have been keeping everyone informed of the decisions. The situation will be reviewed on an on-going basis,” he said.
Both franchise’s decisions follow the news that this year’s Super Rugby season will be suspended for the foreseeable future due to the coronavirus, which is causing major issues for all sporting calendars as it continues to spread worldwide.
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