Home Blues Roger Tuivasa-Sheck will start at 12 with the Blues

Roger Tuivasa-Sheck will start at 12 with the Blues

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The Blues have announced their squad for Saturday’s Super Rugby Pacific encounter against the Hurricanes in Dunedin with former rugby league star Roger Tuivasa-Sheck making his long-awaited rugby union debut.

The Blues will welcome eight All Blacks, past and present, to their roster for the team’s first appearance in this year’s tournament.

Prop Nepo Laulala, loose striker Hoskins Sotutu, scrum-half Finlay Christie and center Rieko Ioane will start with prop Ofa Tuungafasi coming off the bench for the All Blacks who took part in the northern tour, while ‘Alex Hodgman, Luke Romano and Caleb Clarke wore it all in black.

Another top newbie

There is considerable interest in the appearance of Tuivasa-Sheck and experienced second lineman Luke Romano, who is also set to make his debut for the Blues.

Romano, with 137 Super Rugby caps for the Crusaders and 32 for the All Blacks, is among the most experienced locks in the competition, while the first Super Rugby show is very exciting for Tuivasa-Sheck, who has amassed 195 appearances in the NRL and 20 selections for New Zealand in the code at 13.

Blues coach Leon MacDonald said he was impressed with the efforts on and off the field from Romano and Tuivasa-Sheck.

“Luke has settled in very well here and has already been an outstanding contributor, even though he has to sit through training on Thursday with an injury,” he told the Blues’ official website.

“Also, Roger has settled in extremely well and integrated into rugby like the professional he is. If we can get a good ball up front it will be interesting to see the back line in action.

The Blues missed the opener with Moana Pasifika unable to play, although MacDonald says that won’t be an excuse for her team.

“It’s something we have to overcome. All the teams arrived with a short pre-season and with the obvious challenges in those bubbles,” he added.

“For us, it’s about pride in our shirt and our Blues region, overcoming any perceived adversity and having the confidence to play our game to the standards we have achieved on the training grounds. .

“The attitude and the ability have been great and it’s about taking this form from the training ground to the game situation.

“We know it’s going to be a lightning-fast, open game because he’s still under the roof at Forsyth Barr.”

Key players missing with injuries include All Blacks Beauden Barrett and captain Dalton Papalii, both recovering from blows to the head, and Akira Ioane.

Blues: 15 Zarn Sullivan, 14 Mark Telea, 13 Rieko Ioane, 12 Roger Tuivasa-Scheck, 11 Caleb Clarke, 10 Harry Plummer, 9 Finlay Christie, 8 Hoskins Sotutu, 7 Adrian Choat, 6 Tom Robinson, 5 Luke Romano, 4 Josh Goodhue, 3 Nepo Laulala, 2 Kurt Eklund, 1 Alex Hodgman
Subs: 16 Ricky Riccitelli, 17 Ofa Tuungafasi, 18 Marcel Renata, 19 Sam Darry, 20 Anton Segner, 21 Sam Nock, 22 Stephen Perofeta, 23 Tanielu Tele’a

Dated: Saturday February 26
Location: Forsyth Barr Stadium, Dunedin
To start up: 7:05 p.m. local (06:05 GMT)
Arbitrator: James Doleman
Assistant referees: Paul Williams, Marcus Playle
TMO: To confirm

READ MORE: Super Rugby Pacific: Crusaders bring in Sevu Reece as 11 All Blacks named in squad to face Highlanders