Auckland Blues

Celebrations as fans return to professional sport

Fans cheered as the New Zealand Air Force made a low pass over Eden Park on Sunday, just moments before kickoff between the Blues and Hurricanes in round one of Super Rugby Aotearoa.

On the ground, a simple message standing between the two teams. Thank you Aotearoa.

A message reiterated by All Blacks first five, and Blues debutant, Beauden Barrett after the match.

"It was about rugby being back and everyone coming to support this team, and also the Hurricanes.

Blues-Canes match draws sell-out crowd

New Zealand's government lifted virtually all COVID-19 restrictions earlier this week, allowing a 10-week competition for the country's five Super Rugby teams to begin this weekend without any limits on crowd sizes.

The Blues said that by 12 noon on Saturday they had sold 43,000 tickets, the capacity set for the match, and there would be no gate sales on matchday.

Eden Park can usually seat up to about 50,000.

"It was only a few weeks ago that we were planning for a competition behind closed doors," Blues chief executive Andrew Hore said in a statement on Saturday.

Dan Carter to play for Blues

Sources have confirmed to RNZ that the former Crusaders star will join the Blues for the Super Rugby Aotearoa competition, which kicks off on Saturday week.

The 38-year-old's signing is expected to be announced at a media session in Auckland at midday.

The Blues coach Leon MacDonald messaged the team on Wednesday to tell them Carter was joining the side as injury cover for Stephen Perofeta.

"His motive is to give back to NZ Rugby by sharing his experience/knowledge with us.

"Great opportunity to learn from one of the games' greats," Macdonald wrote.

Beauden Barrett sets phenomenal personal best time in fitness drill as Blues resume training

It’s been more than two months since the Auckland franchise played their last match against the Lions at Eden Park on March 14 after Super Rugby was suspended due to international travel restrictions enforced because of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

The five New Zealand franchises resumed training on Monday, though, and the Blues welcomed their backs to their Alexandra Park base in Epsom to kickstart their pre-season with a fitness test known as the Bronco.

Steven Luatua interested in making a return to the Blues

The 15-cap All Black left Kiwi shores in 2017 to venture north and take up a contract with the Bristol Bears; a move he hoped would add to his game.

Still just 28, there’s plenty of life left in Luatua’s career and speaking to Sky Sport’s Breakdown show he said he still had a goal to achieve with the Blues in Super Rugby.

“One of my goals was always to come back and play 100 games for the Blues – I think I’m 20 or 30-odd short so that’s a couple of seasons,” he said.

Boots on for Barrett at Blues

Hot on the heels of their upset win over his former team, the All Blacks star has joined his new Super Rugby side on the training paddock for the first time this week.

The return of the Blues' marquee signing and former Hurricanes No 10 from an extended break has arrived slightly earlier than some expected.

As much as he relished his post-Rugby World Cup holiday, Barrett said there was a clear moment when his mindset shifted.

"It was a really good break, until Super Rugby kicked off in round one and then my feet started to get itchy.

Sotutu rest gives Ioane opportunity

The one-match All Black missed out on a starting spot in the team's first five matches of 2020 thanks to the impressive form of 21-year-old Hoskins Sotutu.

But with Sotutu rested after the Blues back-to-back wins in South Africa, Ioane has been given the number eight jersey for Saturday night's clash with the Hurricanes in Wellington.

The selection was one of several changes to a Blues side on a short week after only returning from their successful trip to South Africa on Tuesday.

Head coach Leon MacDonald said the decisions were based on a finding from last year.

Blues go back-to-back in SA

Backing up their 23-21 win over the Bulls last weekend, the Auckland-based side scored a convincing 33-14 win over the Stormers in Cape Town on Sunday morning (NZ time).

The Blues led 27-14 at halftime, thanks to a brace of tries from English centre-turned-winger Joe Marchant and another from flanker Dalton Papali'i.

The second half wasn't so free-flowing, with the visitors defence shining as the kept the Stormers scoreless and ended their unbeaten start to the season.

Blues snatch win in Pretoria

It's the Blues' second win of the season and lifts them to third in the New Zealand conference, four points behind the Chiefs and five behind the Crusaders.

"It's always hard to come to Africa. Coming to Loftus against a Bulls side against the wall, they pretty much fought to the end. We had to work hard for it and I'm pretty pleased," Blues captain Patrick Tuipulotu told local broadcaster Supersport.

It's the Blues' first win in Pretoria in eight years.

Blues coach Leon MacDonald reveals his plan for Akira Ioane

Coach Leon MacDonald said he had room for only one specialist No8 among the loose forward make-up, and that the impressive form of Hoskins Sotutu meant Akira, Rieko’s older brother, missed out.

“This will allow Akira to continue his preparations at home to be fast and ready to add fresh input to the team on our return to take on the Hurricanes in three weeks,” MacDonald said.