Super Rugby

Blues to dig deep for replacements against Highlanders




Auckland Super Rugby franchise the Blues have revealed that with half of their squad on the injury list including five for the season they are on the search for replacements approaching their Super Rugby clash against the Highlanders.


Currently 18 players will not be considered for selection for Friday’s match at Eden Park, with six of these out for the season and a further still sidelined for several more weeks.

The latest to join the walking wounded are fullback Michael Collins, who has broken a bone in his hand and out for around five weeks, and lock Josh Goodhue out for up to a month with an AC joint injury. Both suffered the injuries in the weekend win over the Sunwolves in Tokyo.

With seven midfield and outside backs out of action, the Blues promoted Northland winger Jordan Hyland after some strong performances for the Blues Development side. He made the most of his opportunities with two tries against the Sunwolves on debut.

New Zealand Under-20s representative Orbyn Leger, initially called in pre-season as a short-term replacement, has not only remained, but impressed with his starting debut in Japan, coming in with both Sonny Bill Williams and George Moala injured.

The other to receive a late call-up with young Auckland lock Ben Neenee, who made his debut in Japan, and is likely to be called on again with locks Scott Scrafton, Gerard Cowley-Tuioti and now Goodhue on the injured list.

“It seems all the New Zealand Super teams are suffering from a high attrition rate and we are no different,” said Blues head coach Tana Umaga. “It is testing the depth of the playing resources around the country as we have seen this week with the likes of Sam Prattley called into the Chiefs.

“It is testing our depth and our resources but at the same time it is giving opportunities to others.

“It is challenging to build momentum when we are changing so many players and now bringing in new faces but we are fortunate that our Development team coaches have done such a great job with the next layer of players.”

The injury list includes Otere Black (knee – season), Blake Gibson (shoulder), Glenn Preston (groin, season), Sonny Bill Williams (wrist), Augustine Pulu (foot), Alex Hodgman (wrist), Scott Scrafton (leg – season), Daniel Kirkpatrick (ribs), Melani Nanai (ankle), Jordan Trainor (hand), Matt Johnson (surgery – season), Jerome Kaino (hamstring), George Moala (chest – season), Josh Goodhue (shoulder), Tamati Tua (hand), Gerard Cowley-Tuioti (knee), Caleb Clarke (appendicitis), Michael Collins (hand).

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