Super Rugby Aotearoa

All Blacks loosies return for Blues, still no Dan Carter

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Blues team (AFP)
Blues team (AFP)

All Blacks loose forwards Dalton Papalii and Akira Ioane return to the Blues starting line-up for Saturday's Super Rugby Aotearoa clash against the Chiefs in Hamilton.

Kick-off is at 09:05 (SA time).

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It's the only changes from the team that beat the Hurricanes 30-20 in Auckland during last weekend’s opening round.

Papalii, who came off the bench last week, starts at No 7 while Ioane, with 68 Blues caps to his credit, comes in at No 6 replacing Blake Gibson and Tom Robinson respectively, who are both unavailable due to injury.

The Blues have the same tight five but are bolstered with the return of Sione Mafileo, one of the standouts earlier in the season, who will earn his 50th cap off the bench.

The trio of in-form Hoskins Sotutu, Papalii and Ioane will form a potent loose trio in what should be a pivotal battle at the breakdown.

The backline remains unchanged with last weekend's star Otere Black remaining at flyhalf and Beauden Barrett again starting at fullback.

There's still no place in the match-day squad for All Blacks legend Dan Carter, who recently signed with the Blues.

"We know that last week was a good start but that we will need to get better if we want a positive result against the Chiefs," coach Leon MacDonald told the Blues' official website.

"The players who took the field will be better for that experience, especially understanding the importance of discipline at the breakdown and getting back into competition after so long off.

"We know that depth will be really important in this competition and we are fortunate to have the likes of Dalton and Akira to come into the starting line-up. Parts of our play were good last week but we must lift to another level against what we know is a very good and very physical Chiefs side as well as a healthy rivalry with our neighbours."

Teams:

Chiefs

15 Damian McKenzie, 14 Shaun Stevenson, 13 Quinn Tupaea, 12 Anton Lienert-Brown, 11 Sean Wainui, 10 Aaron Cruden, 9 Brad Weber, 8 Pita Gus Sowakula, 7 Lachlan Boshier, 6 Luke Jacobson, 5 Naitoa Ah Kuoi, 4 Tupou Vaa'l, 3 Nepo Laulala, 2 Samisoni Taukei'aho, 1 Aidan Ross

Substitutes: 16 Bradley Slater, 17 Reuben O'Neill, 18 Ross Geldenhuys, 19 Adam Thomson, 20 Dylan Nel, 21 Lisati Milo-Harris, 22 Kaleb Trask, 23 Solomon Alaimalo

Blues

15 Beauden Barrett, 14 Mark Telea, 13 Rieko Ioane, 12 TJ Faiane, 11 Caleb Clarke, 10 Otere Black, 9 Sam Nock, 8 Hoskins Sotutu, 7 Dalton Papali'i, 6 Akira Ioane, 5 Josh Goodhue, 4 Patrick Tuipulotu (captain), 3 Ofa Tu'ungafasi, 2 James Parsons, 1 Alex Hodgman

Substitutes: 16 Kurt Eklund, 17 Marcel Renata, 18 Sione Mafileo, 19 Gerard Cowley-Tuioti, 20 Tony Lamborn, 21 Finlay Christie, 22 Harry Plummer, 23 Matt Duffie

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