Auckland Blues

Super Rugby matches still up in air


The country's shift back up the Covid-19 alert levels until at least midnight Friday has put both matches in serious doubt.

As it stands, Sunday's sold-out Blues-Crusaders match in Auckland could not go ahead, while Saturday's Highlanders-Hurricanes game in Dunedin could but without fans.

NZR general manager for professional rugby & performance Chris Lendrum said all their decision-making would be guided by government advice and they were awaiting the government update on Friday with interest.

The Blues make official statement around the New Zealand Government's decision to lockdown Auckland

With the Blues scheduled to host the Crusaders in front of a sellout crowd on Sunday in the final round of Super Rugby Aotearoa, the Blues are awaiting further correspondence.

“The Blues along with fellow Super Rugby Aotearoa partners and NZR are currently assessing the impact of both the Blues-Crusaders and Highlanders-Hurricanes games with the move to Covid-19 Level 3 in Auckland and the rest of the country to Level 2,” a statement read.

“NZR is in close and constant dialogue with Government and we will pass on more information when we have it.

Dan Carter recognises 'old-man calves' may prevent Blues appearance

The 112-test former All Blacks first five, 38, signed for the Blues as injury cover and had been pencilled in on their bench for a 18 July match with the Wellington Hurricanes. Carter, however, suffered a calf strain and was forced to withdraw from the matchday squad.

In a social media Q&A session, he said his expectations of getting game time had been low in any case before the injury.

"I wasn't really expecting to (play) to be honest, unless there was an injury to Beauden (Barrett) or Otere (Black)," Carter said.

Blues keep Super Rugby Aotearoa title race alive

The Blues' victory moved them to 22 points, two behind the table-topping Crusaders.

Leon Macdonald's side, however, have just one fixture remaining - the final match of the domestic competition which is against the Crusaders on 16 August at Eden Park.

The Crusaders host the Highlanders next Sunday.

The Blues had not won in Dunedin since 2011 and they raced to an early 12-0 lead with tries to number eight Akira Ioane and halfback Christie.

Blues hold on for close win over Chiefs

The Blues produced a massive defensive effort on their goal line in the final five minutes to preserve a win that moved them to 17 competition points, two behind the table-topping Crusaders, who have a game in hand.

The Crusaders suffered their first loss of the domestic competition on Saturday, when the Hurricanes beat them 34-32 in Christchurch.

Both the Blues and Chiefs were desperate heading into the match to arrest their respective slides with the Auckland side having lost their last two games after winning the first three.

All Black jersey awaits Hoskins Sotutu

The 21-year-old No 8 has been a standout performer in Super Rugby this year, his rapid rise thrusting him into conversations

concerning the selection of the next New Zealand squad.

Sotutu is not only eligible for the All Blacks but also Fiji through his dad, former Blues and Auckland utility Waisake, and England through his mother.

All Blacks great Dan Carter to play club rugby for Southbridge on Saturday

The new Blues recruit will make the most of the Blues' bye weekend to travel to Canterbury and turn out for his beloved Southbridge club on Saturday.

Carter will pull on the No. 10 jersey at Southbridge Domain against West Melton.

A club spokesperson confirmed Carter's availability for the game on Tuesday evening.

Carter last played for Southbridge in 2014.

His rugby return marks the first major step in his aim to be ready to take on his old team the Crusaders in Christchurch on July 11, in what would be his Blues debut.

Billionaires target Beauden Barrett for ambitious French club Beziers

European reports say Beziers also want former All Blacks midfielder Ma'a Nonu and Welsh sharpshooter Dan Biggar.

The club is in the middle of a deal to be bought by wealthy investors from the United Arab Emirates.

Beziers are currently battling in the highly competitive French second division but the once-proud club – they have 11 French titles to their name – are desperate to be a major force in Europe again and are prepared to go on a spending spree to achieve that.

Leon MacDonald keeps the faith as Blues make just one change for homecoming

The Blues will host the southerners at Eden Park on Saturday, with a 7.05pm kick-off.

MacDonald said a number of the squad have pressed hard for inclusion but the current group continued to prove themselves on the paddock.

The only change comes in the reserves where England international Joe Marchant is included in what will be his final match for the Blues before returning to his Harlequins club in London.

“The whole squad are training hard, and our current starters are getting tested at every training session, which is what we want,” said MacDonald.

Disruptive injuries at the Blues could open the door for an Akira Ioane return

One week in, the Blues may be forced to reshuffle their loose forwards after suffering multiple blows against the Hurricanes.

Spirits were high as the Blues trained at their Alexandra Park base on Tuesday following their opening-round 30-20 victory over the Hurricanes, but the combative nature of the New Zealand derbies is already taking its toll, with Tom Robinson and Blake Gibson absent from the squad and likely to miss Saturday’s trip to Hamilton to face the Chiefs.