Blues Development coach Steve Jackson has named an experienced team for their first hit out against the Chiefs Development team at Ardmore Marist tomorrow (kick-off 5.30pm).
The squad features seven players with Super Rugby experience, with Hayden Triggs making his first appearance for the franchise and Blues squad members Jamison Gibson-Park and Baden Kerr combining at halfback and first five-eighths.
“It’s an exciting team. There is an opportunity for those guys in the Blues squad to push for selection in the top team and for the younger players to get a taste of what this level of rugby is like,” said Jackson.
Blues players Albert Nikoro, Lolagi Visinia, Baden Kerr, Jamison Gibson-Park and Hayden Triggs will all start tomorrow night.
The remainder of the team is made up from players across Northland, North Harbour and Auckland.
“This game will be a step up from ITM Cup – especially in physicality. It’s exciting for these young guys because people will be watching.
“Already we’ve seen a player (Gafatasi Sua) from our set up be called over to South Africa to join the Blues and that’s what this is all about, developing and promoting players,” said Jackson.
Tomorrow night’s match is the first in a three game series against the Chiefs Development team.
Jackson said all 23 players named in the team can expect game time.
“We’ve had three trainings in the lead up to the match so maybe a bit underdone but the enthusiasm is there and we have plenty of experience.”
The team will be captained by Baden Kerr.
Blues Development v Chiefs Development
Ardmore Marist (Walters Road, Papakura)
Thursday 13 March, kick off 5.30pm
The team to play the Chiefs is:
1. Greg Pleasants-Tate (North Harbour)
2. Ray Niuia (North Harbour)
3. Fraser Armstrong (Auckland)
4. Brandon Nansen (North Harbour)
5. Hayden Triggs (Blues)
6. Dan Pryor (Northland)
7. Sean Polwart (Auckland)
8. Dillon Wihongi (North Harbour)
9. Jamison Gibson-Park (Blues)
10. Baden Kerr (Blues) – captain
11. Lolagi Visinia (Blues)
12. Matt McGahan (North Harbour)
13. Albert Nikoro (Blues)
14. Jone Macilai (Northland)
15. Marty Swart (North Harbour)
16. Kurt Eklund (Auckland)
17. Namatahi Waa (Auckland)
18. Will Griff-John (Northland)
19. William Lloyd (Auckland)
20. Scott Scrafton (Auckland)
21. Sonetane Takulua (Northland)
22. Michael Little (North Harbour)
23. Melani Nanai (Auckland)