Key changes for altitude test against Bulls

Key changes for altitude test against Bulls

The Blues will employ a horses-for-courses approach to their team to take on the Bulls at altitude in Pretoria in Investec Super Rugby at the weekend.
Coach Leon MacDonald has taken the sizeable Bulls pack, the rarefied airs at 1.3km above sea level as well as the rock-hard surface that will promote running rugby into account with his selection.

The 2.02m lock Jacob Pierce earns his third cap and first start of the season alongside captain Patrick Tuipulotu in the middle row, which allows the 1.98m Tom Robinson to move to his preferred loose forward role and present a sizeable lineout. He joins combative USA World Cup flanker Tony Lamborn and in-form No 8 Hoskins Sotutu.

Otere Black has recovered from a pre-season injury to take his place at first-five allowing Harry Plummer his first chance in the midfield, while Stephen Perofeta impressed sufficiently when moved back to fullback last week to get a start in that role.
It means the Blues have three kicking options and some outstanding attacking flare, including Emoni Narawa, who starts on the right wing after three caps off the bench. Both Plummer and Perofeta will earn their blazer games for 20 games for the Blues.

There is a powerful look to the bench with lively hooker Kurt Eklund, All Blacks Ofa Tuungafasi and Dalton Papalii, a potential debut for aggressive lock Aaron Carroll, and the experience of TJ Faiane and Matt Duffie.

Rieko Ioane, who has made a speedy recovery from a minor fracture in his hand, was not considered but is hopeful if being available next week.

The team is:

1 Karl Tu’inukuafe, 2 James Parsons, 3 Sione Mafileo, 4 Patrick Tuipulotu ©, 5 Jacob Pierce, 6, Tom Robinson,7. Tony Lamborn, 8 Hoskins Sotutu; 9 Jonathan Ruru, 10 Otere Black, 11 Mark Telea, 12 Harry Plummer, 13 Joe Marchant, 14 Emoni Narawa, 15 Stephen Perofeta.

Reserves:

16 Kurt Eklund, 17 Ezekiel Lindenmuth, 18 Ofa Tuungafasi, 19 Aaron Carroll, 20 Dalton Papalii, 21 Sam Nock, 22 TJ Faiane, 12 Matt Duffie.