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The Super Rugby Pacific leaders, the Blues will take on the Queensland Reds at Eden Park, Auckland as the New Zealand side look to cement their position at the top of the table. Join The Roar for live scores from 5:05pm AEST.
The return of James O’Connor to the Reds starting line up is the big news from this match. His inclusion in the run on side is one of six changes that coach Brad Thorn has made as the Queenslanders try to get their season back on track after a recent slip down the ladder.
Just as important to the Reds is the return of Hunter Paisami to the centres where he’ll be going up against Roger Tuivasa-Sheck and Rieko Ioane in a stunning battle.
Seru Uru moves to number eight to provide cover for the concussed Harry Wilson while Angus Scott-Young starts at openside flanker with Fraser McReight unfortunately being ruled out through illness.
The Blues are the strongest side in the competition this year and are at home for this game but they won’t be taking the Reds lightly. They know that their opponents tonight are in a battle with the Chiefs, Hurricanes and Tahs for the crucial fourth spot on the ladder.
The Blues have named an impressive side therefore with the back row drawing the eye as it is stocked with All Black talent in Akira Ioane, Dalton Papalii and Hoskins Sotutu.
Beauden Barrett slots back in at fly half but Stephen Perofeta has impressed with his form and stays in the run on side at full back.
Blues coach Leon MacDonald has said that his side are in the right frame of mind for this clash against the Reds at home.
“This is our final regular-season game at Eden Park and the team is determined to make it a Blues performance of quality for our fans,” said MacDonald earlier this week.
This should be a thrilling game with talent all over the park and plenty of interesting battles to keep an eye on including the back rows, Barrett vs JOC and the centre pairings.
Blues (1-15): Alex Hodgman, Kurt Eklund, Ofa Tu’ungafasi, James Tucker, Tom Robinson, Akira Ioane, Dalton Papalii (c), Hoskins Sotutu, Finlay Christie, Beauden Barrett, Caleb Clarke, Roger Tuivasa-Sheck, Rieko Ioane, Mark Telea, Stephen Perofeta
Reserves: Soana Vikena, Jordan Lay, Nepo Laulala, Luke Romano, Adrian Choat, Sam Nock, Bryce Heem, Zarn Sullivan
Reds (1-15): Dane Zander, Albert Anae, Feao Fotuaika, Ryan Smith, Angus Blyth, Connor Vest, Angus Scott-Young, Seru Uru, Tate McDermott (c), James O’Connor, Jordan Petaia, Hunter Paisami, Josh Flook, Suliasi Vunivalu, Jock Campbell
Reserves: Matt Faessler, Harry Hoopert, Sef Fa’agase, Lukhan Salakaia-Loto, Tuaina Tualima, Kalani Thomas, Hamish Stewart, Lawson Creighton