The Blues and Highlanders begin Week 12 of Super Rugby Pacific with New Zealand’s approach against Australian rivals on Friday night.
The table-topping Blues will be the favorites to host the Rebels, while the Highlanders will be looking to build on their win over the Fijian Drua in a tough match against the Reds in Brisbane.
The game of the round feels like coming on Saturday night in Hamilton when the Chiefs host the high-flying, second-placed Brambuses.
Here are the teams and selection talk points for this weekend’s action.
* Super Rugby Pacific: Crusaders ban Hamish Dalzell for three weeks
* Mark Reason: Why New Zealand’s mistreatment of rugby referees is a national disgrace
* ‘One of the better reviews’: Crusaders dig deep for solution after shock damage
* Super Rugby Power Rankings: A happy week doesn’t equal an Australian revival
Blues vs Rebels
Friday, 7.05 pm at Eden Park, Auckland
Stephen Perofetta is back in the driver’s seat as the Blues look to extend their nine-match Super Rugby Pacific winning streak when they host the Melbourne Rebels at Eden Park on Friday.
At the end of his designated All Blacks Rest Week with star No. 10 Beauden Barrett, Perofetta returns from an illness break to reassign the responsibility of running the competition leaders around the paddock as they head to their final home round-robin. Chasing a return to top form. match.
Perofetta joined No. 8 Hoskins Sotutu, center Rico Ioane, utility forward Tom Robinson (selected this week in second row), backup halfback Sam Noakes and prop Napo Loulala in returning on match day 23 after sitting out last week.
This week, with veteran locks Luke Romano (rest) and Josh Goodhue (broken thumb) both joining in, the versatile Robinson pairs with James Tucker in the second row, while Sotutu joins in a powerhouse loose trio with Akira Ione and captain Dalton Papali.
Mark Telia is back in his customary right-wing position closer to a full-powered blues backline. Coach Leon Macdonald has challenged his players to produce “a more consistent 80-minute performance”, as their runs were extended to nine on the surge following a pairing victory in Australia.
Downhearted: Zarna Sullivan, Mark Telia, Rico Ione, Roger Tuivasa-Shek, Caleb Clark, Stephen Perofetta, Finlay Christie; Hoskins Sotutu, Dalton Papali (c), Akira Ione, Tom Robinson, James Tucker, Ofa Tungfasi, Kurt Eklund, Jordan Leigh. inventory: Sone Vikena, Karl Tuinukuafe, Napo Loulala, Sam Derry, Adrian Choat, Sam Noakes, Bryce Heim, AJ Lam.
the rebels: Reece Hodge, Andrew Kelaway, Lucas Ripley, Stacy Ialy, George Worth, Carter Gordon, Joe Powell, Rob Leota, Richard Hardwicke, Brad Wilkin, Josh Canham, Matt Phillip (c), Pon Famausili, James Hanson, Matt Gibbon. inventory: Effie Maffu, Cameron Orr, Cabus Eloff, Daniel Mayawa, Tamati Ioane, Moses Sorowi, Nick Joste, Glenn Wahoo.
Highlanders No 10 Mitch Hunt says the Australian team is playing to prove something in Super Rugby Pacific.
reds vs highlanders
Friday, 9.45 pm at Suncorp Stadium, Brisbane
Fresh off a much-needed victory at Suva, coach Tony Brown has strengthened his pack for the tough journey to Brisbane.
Veteran hooker Liam Coltman, veteran loose forward James Lentzes and locked Josh Dixon all returned to the starting side, with Dixon back from a two-week suspension.
Influential youth supporter Soula Mau has been named on the bench.
The Browns’ opening backline is unchanged from a narrow win over Drua.
“It’s great to have Colty, Jimmy and Josh back for this one, the Reds are very strong in front, and it will be a tough old night for the small numbers and we are counting on the energy from the bench when they are called in. That we know we are going to need a deck with all hands on Friday night,” Brown said.
red: Jock Campbell, Suliasi Vunivalu, Hunter Paisami, Hamish Stewart, Jordan Petia, Lawson Creighton, Tate McDermott (captain), Harry Wilson, Fraser McRight, Ceru Uru, Lukhan Salakia-Lotto, Ryan Smith, Feo Fotuaka, Richie Asiata, Harry Huppert. inventory: Matt Faisler, Dan Zander, Albert Ayne, Angus Blyth, Angus Scott-Young, Spencer Jeans, Josh Fluke, Filippo Daugunu.
Highlanders: Connor Gardens-Bachop, Sam Gilbert, Thomas Umaga-Jensen, Fetuli Peaa, Scott Gregory, Mitch Hunt, Aaron Smith (CC), Marino Mikel-Tu’U, Billy Harmon, James Lentzes (CC), Josh Dixon, Brian Evans, Jermaine Ainsley, Liam Coltman, Ethan de Groot. inventory: Rice Marshall, Daniel Leinert-Brown, Soula Maui, Max Hicks, Hugh Renton, Folau Faktawa, Marty Banks, Moses Dawai.
Moana Pacifica vs Varatahasi
Saturday at 4.35 pm at Mount Smart Stadium, Auckland
It is a special match for Moana Pasifika’s captain Sekope Kepu, coming up against a Waratahs team he played in 141 games between 2008 and 2019.
After six consecutive games away from home, Moana returned to the Mount Smart Stadium with a very arranged lineup from a 26-22 loss to the Rebels in Melbourne last weekend.
In fact, Aaron Mauger’s only tweak to the lineup is on the openside flanker, with Alamanda Motuga’s cheek fractured, promoting Solomon Funaki to start.
Alex McRobie and Jack Lam return to the bench after recovering from a concussion and a knee injury (with Zion Tuipulotu ruled out, respectively).
Moana Pasifica: Danny Toala, Tima Finganuku, Levi Aumua, Henry Taifu, Timosi Tawatwanai, Christian Lille’Fano, Aretara Enri, Henry Time-Stovers, Solomon Funaki, Michael Curry, Samuel Slade, Vikoso Polonati, Sekop Kepu (c), Rey Nuia , Abraham Pole. inventory: Robber Tolai, Ezekiel Lindenmuth, Joe Epikotoa, Alex McRobie, Jack Lamm, Jonathan Taumetine, Lincoln McClatchy, Solomon Kata.
Varaha: Alex Newsom, Mark Nwakanitawase, Izaya Perez, Lalkai Foketi, Dylan Pietsch, Tane Edmed, Jake Gordon (c), Rahboni Warren-Wosayako, Charlie Gamble, Will Harris, Geoff Kriege, Jade Holloway, Archer Holz, Dave Porecki, Angus Bell. inventory: Tom Horton, Teterta Faulkner, Ruan Smith, Hugh Sinclair, Langie Gleason, Jack Grant, Ben Donaldson, Tristan Reilly.
Chiefs vs Brumby
Saturday, 7.05pm FMG Stadium Waikato, Hamilton
Chief co-captain Sam is set to welcome Kane to their lineup, depending on the child’s condition.
Kane missed last weekend’s 27-25 win over the Reds in Brisbane after flying home to be with wife Harriet, with the couple now expecting their first child at some point.
Should Kane actually play, he will take back the No. 7 jersey from Kaylum Boshier, an otherwise unchanged forward pack.
Clayton McMillan has made two tweaks to the backline and a positional switch, adding some extra back stock, meaning All Blacks midfielder Quinn Tupia can now return to his more accustomed position at second five-eighths.
Etienne Nanai-Saturo comes back on the left wing, while Caleb Trask replaces Chase Tiatia at fullback. Rameka Pohippy goes to a bench, which includes the return of prop Ollie Norris and Emoni Narva on the outside (with George Dyer, Mitch Brown and Rivez Rehana being out) and Attu Molly for his 50th appearance.
prominent: Caleb Trask, Jonah Lowe, Alex Nankiwell, Quinn Tupia, Eten Nanai-Ceturo, Brian Gatland, Cortez Ratima, Pita Gus Sowakula, Sam Kane (c), Luke Jacobson, Taupo Wai, Josh Lord, Angus Tawao, Samisoni Touaki’aho, Aidan Ross. inventory: Bradley Slater, Ollie Norris, Attu Molly, Naitoa Eh Kuoi, Samipene Finau, Javier Rowe, Rameka Pohippy, Emoni Narva.
Brumby: Tom Banks, Tom Wright, Len Ikitou, Ira Simone, Andy Muirhead, Noah Lolesio, Nick White (captain), Pete Samu, Jharome Brown, Rob Valetini, Cadyern Neville, Darcy Swain, Sefo Koutai, Folau Finga, James Slipper. inventory: Billy Pollard, Scott Seo, Alan Allatoa, Nick Frost, Tom Hooper, Rory Scott, Ryan Lonergan, Ollie Sapsford.
western army vs crusaders
Saturday, 9.45 pm at HBF Park, Perth
Stunned by their defeat at the hands of the Voorahs in Sydney last weekend, the Crusaders should be doing a little tugging against The Force for this one.
The big question, which will start in the second row, has been answered: Sam Whitlock is joined by Zack Gallagher, who has recovered from a shoulder injury that left him at late notice last weekend, before kick-off. was forced to withdraw.
Dominic Gardiner is named as cover for the locks on the bench. Hamish Dalzel, who took the field as a substitute in Sydney, was suspended for three weeks for a high tackle on Waratah flanker Michael Hooper, therefore could not enter the reckoning for this fixture.
Crusaders coach Scott Robertson has brought back All Blacks number 10 Richie Mounga to help add some ballast to the backline that misfired in Sydney.
As All Black’s Cody Taylor is not named on match day 23, Robertson lists Ricky Jackson on the hooker. George Bell is set to make his debut from the bench.
Force: Jake Strachan, Byron Ralston, Kyle Godwin, Bailey Kuenzale, Manassa Mattele, Reason Passitoa, Isaac Fines-Lellivasa, Tim Ansty, Ollie Colon, Fergus Lee-Warner, Isaac Rodda, Ryan McCauley, Santiago Medrano, Feletti Catu’u (c) , Tom Robertson. inventory: Andrew Ready, Angus Wagner, Bo Abra, Jeremy Thrush, Alex Masibaca, Ian Prior, Jake McIntyre, Richard Kahui.
Crusader: Will Jordan, George Bridges, Braydon Ennore, David Haviley (c), Leicester Fenaga’Anuku, Richie Mounga, Mitchell Drummond, Cullen Grace, Ethan Blackadder, Pablo Matera, Sam Whitlock, Zach Gallagher, Ollie Jagger, Ricky Jackson, Tamati Williams. inventory: George Bell, Finlay Brevis, Fletcher Newell, Dominic Gardiner, Zion Havily Talitui, Brian Hall, Fergus Burke, Chai Fihaki.
Hurricane vs Fiji Druya
Sunday, 3.35 pm at Sky Stadium, Wellington
Former Crusaders and All Blacks prop Owen Franks will make his long-awaited debut to storm on Sunday, as veteran Dane Coles also makes his return to foot.
It was announced last May that Franks had signed a two-year deal with the Cannes, although the 34-year-old ruptured his Achilles tendon in November, with initial fears it could sideline him for an entire season.
However, the 108-Test string will actually get to don new colors this year, having been named on the bench for the clash against Fijian Drua, where Jason Holland picked resting stars Ardi Savia and Jordi Barrett. Is.
With Savia taking the week off, TJ Perenara will captain the side, while former captain Coles will play from reserve in his first outing of the season following a hamstring injury on the All Blacks’ Northern tour last year.
The hosts’ lineup features two Super Rugby debutants – Manawato loose forward Tyler Lobscher, himself returning from an 18-month injury layoff, will start at No. 8, while midfielder Riley Higgins, 19, is on the bench.
storm: Josh Moorby, Wes Goosen, Bailey Sullivan, Billy Proctor, Selsie Raisey, Aidan Morgan, TJ Pereira (c), Tyler Lobscher, du Plessis Kirifi, Blake Gibson, Justin Sangster, Isaiah Walker-Leware, Tyrell Lomax, Asafo Aumua, Xavier Noumea . inventory: Dan Coles, Tavita Mafilio, Owen Franks, Caleb Delany, TK Howden, Cameron Roigard, Jackson Gardens-Bachop, Riley Higgins.
Fijian Druya: Kishan Taliga, Celestino Ravtoumada, Apsialom Vota, Jonah Mataikiwa, Kishan Ratu, Simione Kuruvoli, Te Ahivaru Sirikideveta, Kishan Salava, Meli Derenlagi (c), Sorovakatini Tuifagale, Isoa Nasilasila, Kemuel K. Samueliwa inventory: Tevita Ikanivere, Meli Tuni, Manasa Soulo, Chris Minimbi, Raikabula Momoedonu, Leon Navai, Teti Teela, Onisi Ratave.