All Blacks and Blues lock Anthony Boric will make his long-awaited return to the rugby field tomorrow, playing for the Blues Development team against the Crusader Knights.
Boric has not played in almost a year, having undergone surgery last year for a neck injury.
“Anthony has been progressing well, and he is working hard to get a starting spot in the Blues,” said Blues Development coach Bevan Cadwallader.
“He will bring a massive amount of ability and experience to the game but it is more about him just getting into some work.”
Boric is one of 13 Blues players named in the development team alongside a number of up-and-coming talent from across Auckland, North Harbour and Northland.
For many of the players it will be their first game of the season and while the team has only had a handful of trainings together Cadwallader is confident they will perform.
“There will be a lot of new combinations out there but I trust they’ll warm to the task quickly and get into their jobs.”
This game is the first in a five-match schedule for the Blues development team and Cadwallader said the aim was to win all five.
“We have to bear in mind we will have guys coming in and out of the squad due to their Blues commitments but we are working with a common purpose and this goal is achievable.”
Blues High Performance Manager Nick Sheppard said the programme was vital to the franchise in the identification and development of young players.
While most players have experience at ITM Cup level, Sheppard said the development programme was an opportunity to expose players to a higher level of rugby.
“In the last three years we have seen players like Francis Saili, Steven Luatua and Charles Piutau come through this programme – so we know this path produces results,” said Sheppard.
Blues Development v Crusader Knights
Saturday 2nd March
Bell Park, Pakuranga Rugby Club.
The Blues development team is:
1. Tim Perry
2. Gafatasi Su’a
3. Ofa Tu’ungafasi
4. Patrick Tuipolotu
5. Ronald Raaymakers
6. William Whetton
7. Sean Polwart
8. Joe Edwards
9. Wayne Ngaluafe
10. Marty McKenzie
11. Tevita Li
12. Pita Ahki
13. Malakai Fekitoa
14. Waisake Naholo
15. Lolagi Visinia
16. Nathan Vella
17. Matt Wallace
18. Anthony Boric
19. Jake Heenan
20. Kane Barrett
21. Jamison Gibson-Park
22. Cody Rei
23. Alex Woonton
24. Derek Carpenter