Auckland Blues

Roger Tuivasa-Sheck headlines Blues squad for Super Rugby Pacific 2022

That’s because – with almost 200 NRL appearances, a 2013 Premiership title and a 2018 Dally M Medal to his name – 28-year-old former Warriors captain is among the highest-profile cross-code converts to have moved from rugby league to rugby union.

As such, the inclusion of Tuivasa-Sheck in next year’s Blues squad makes him one of the most prominent names in the Auckland franchise’s roster, and that’s saying something given they also welcome the return of All Blacks centurion Beauden Barrett back from Japan.

Joe Schmidt joins Blues coaching staff for 2022 season

Schmidt was confirmed on Tuesday to step into a part-time role as a “support coach” to assist Leon MacDonald. He had been an assistant with the franchise from 407, before heading offshore to carve out a respectable international career, in France and Ireland.

The move back into coaching came after Schmidt had taken some time away from hands-on development following his 2019 World Cup commitments with Ireland, and is a positive move by the Blues after the off-season departure of key assistant coach Tana Umaga.

Three Auckland rugby teams won't play again this year

The three Auckland provinces were forced to withdraw from the NPC earlier this month because of level 3 Covid restrictions but it had been hoped to establish a Super City competition for the three sides however New Zealand Rugby says with the continuation of restrictions in Auckland that won't be possible.

On Monday the government announced that the Auckland region will continue to operate under current COVID-19 Alert Level 3 restrictions, for the next two weeks.

Tuipulotu to stay with NZ rugby and Blues

The Blues captain will head to Japan later this year after the All Blacks end of year tour. He will miss the Super Rugby season next year and return to New Zealand mid-2022.

Tuipulotu said while there was a desire to experience playing overseas, he and his family wanted to live in New Zealand long-term.

"In some ways winning the Super Rugby Trans-Tasman title has made my decision easier, because we have got that monkey off our backs at the Blues. It was a hard decision because the Blues as a group have developed so well.

Blues claim Trans-Tasman silverware

They have beaten the Highlanders 23-15 in the Trans-Tasman final at Eden Park in Auckland to lift their first Super Rugby trophy since 2003.

Blake Gibson scored the match-sealing try for the Blues in the 77th minute after a tense second half which saw the Highlanders overturn a 13-6 halftime deficit.

"I haven't scored many tries and I normally show no emotion as well, but that one felt pretty good, aye," Gibson told Sky Sport.

A title is a title: Blues seek to end 18 years of pain

It might not be the full Super Rugby competition but for a team labelled consistent under achievers for the past decade, beating the Highlanders at Eden Park on Saturday night to lift the trans-Tasman trophy would mean just as much.

 

The Blues beat the Crusaders in 2003 to claim their third and last Super Rugby title, with former All Black number 8 Xavier Rush as captain.

Tom Robinson to lead Blues again for big Highlanders clash

Head coach Leon MacDonald has made just one change to the starting XV that secured their third victory of the season, 27-17 over the Hurricanes, before last weekend’s bye, bringing in Jonathan Ruru to start at halfback, with Sam Nock dropping out of the 23 altogether and Finlay Christie returning via the bench. Regular skipper Patrick Tuipulotu is still unavailable as he nurses a neck issue.

Otherwise it’s an unchanged run-on XV, with the only other tweak among the reserves where veteran outside back Bryce Heem gets the nod this week ahead of rookie AJ Lam.

Blues name new captain for pivotal clash with Hurricanes at Eden Park

The second placed Blues, with two wins and two losses in their opening four games, will begin the second round of the competition following their 31-16 victory over the Canes in the opening match in Wellington.

Coach Leon MacDonald has made several changes after the disappointing loss to the Chiefs, although most of the Blues squad from that win in Wellington last month will take part this weekend.

All Blacks star Caleb Clarke could be off-limits for Blues as Olympics beckon

Tony Philp, New Zealand Rugby’s high performance sevens manager, is hoping May is the return date for New Zealand’s men’s and women’s sevens teams’ comeback to the international game.

Neither team have played in an international tournament since the Covid-19 pandemic halted their respective World Series last March.

Clarke is among a small pool of Super Rugby players eyeing an Olympic gold medal at the Tokyo Games in July, but their commitment to Super Rugby Aotearoa means they’re not training under coach Clark Laidlaw with the men’s sevens team for the meantime.

Rokocoko reveals Crusaders approached the wing about a move south

With exceptional top-end pace, a sidestep to rival the greats and what seemed like a permanent smile painted on his face, it was hard to find fault with the flying Fijian – and the man who eventually graced the cover of revered video game Rugby 2005.

Despite all his obvious up-sides, however, there were times when the rocket man struggled for minutes with the Blues. In those early days, including in 2003 when the Blues last won a Super Rugby title, the Auckland-based side had outrageous depth in the outside backs.