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Blues, Crusaders confirm teams for Super Rugby Pacific Final

Thu, 16/06/2022, 12:12 am
Nathan Williamson
by Nathan Williamson
The Brumbies travelled to Eden Park to take on the Blues for a spot in next week's final.

The Blues and Crusaders have named relatively settled line-ups for the Super Rugby Pacific Final.

The hosts are boosted by the hopeful return of Dalton Papalii, pushing to be fit after missing the last two weeks with an appendix operation.

Read the official Super Rugby Pacific Final Program here

He has been named in the number 20 jersey, bracketed alongside James Tucker as the club captain races the clock.

He is joined on the bench by the returning Bryce Heem and Zarn Sullivan as the Blues look to impress in front of a sold out Eden Park.

“This is set for a great occasion and is an opportunity to seal an excellent season in front of a full-house at Eden Park. We know what is at stake and we have prepared well," coach Leon McDonald said in a statement.

“That said, it is another game, and we need to buckle down, do the basics right, provide good front-foot ball for our backs, and focus on doing the basics right, with discipline both with and without the ball.”

Meanwhile, the Crusaders have also made just one change to their starting side, welcoming back Sam Whitelock.

Whitelock last featured in their quarter-final win over the Reds, overcoming a thumb injury to be fit for the decider.

He replaces young lock Zach Gallagher, who drops out of the side with Quinten Strange earning a spot on the bench.

Scott Robertson's men were handed a boost with Pablo Matera avoiding any further sanctioning after last week's red card, selected in the back-row alongside Tom Christie and Cullen Grace.

"As far as Finals go, it doesn't get any more exciting than taking on the Blues at a packed-out Eden Park," Robertson added.

"I'm proud of this group and the care they've shown this week to put themselves in a position to go and put a great performance on the field on Saturday night. We had a few sore bodies following the huge defensive effort last week, but everyone has come through the week really well and excitement is building towards Saturday night.

"We play for these games and the opportunity to represent the Crusaders region on the big stage - we know it's going to be another step up but we're really embracing the challenge in front of us."

Saturday 18 June 5:05 pm AEST – Blues v Crusaders at Eden Park, ad-free, live and on-demand on Stan Sport and Nine Network

BLUES (1-15): Alex Hodgman, Kurt Eklund, Nepo Laulala, Josh Goodhue, Tom Robinson, Akira Ioane, Adrian Choat, Hoskins Sotutu, Finlay Christie, Beauden Barrett (c), AJ Lam, Roger Tuivasa-Sheck, Rieko Ioane, Mark Telea, Stephen Perofeta

RESERVES: Soane Vikena, Karl Tu'inukuafe, Ofa Tuungafasi, Luke Romano, Dalton Papalii/James Tucker, Sam Nock, Bryce Heem, Zarn Sullivan

CRUSADERS (1-15): George Bower, Codie Taylor, Oli Jager, Scott Barrett (c), Sam Whitelock, Pablo Matera, Tom Christie, Cullen Grace, Bryn Hall, Richie Mo'unga, Leicester Faninga'anuku, David Havili, Jack Goodhue, Sevu Reece, Will Jordan

RESERVES: Brodie McAlister, Tamaiti Williams, Fletcher Newell, Quinten Strange, Corey Kellow, Mitch Drummond, Braydon Ennor, George Bridge

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