Rugby lovers in New Zealand and the world over will be turning their focus to Waikato and Wellington as Super Rugby Aotearoa enters its second game week.
Last weekend, New Zealand celebrated two world milestones, being the first nation to have professional and competitive rugby happen and to cap it all up, crowds thronged the stadiums for live-action.
New Zealand became the first nation to declare level 1 restrictions as regards COVID-19, practically opening themselves up for normalcy, save for travel beyond the nation’s borders.
Aotearoa Day one victors, Highlanders are on a bye and will be watching on as the Waikato based Gallagher Chiefs welcome Beauden Barrett’s Blues. Barrett a rather less eventful debut in blue and will be looking to be more explosive for his new side.
Warren Gatland has the task of getting his troops to forget the last-minute heroics of his own son, Bryn Gatland for highlanders, and be ready to tussle it out with the Blues for their first win. Table leading Blues see Akira Ioane return to the blindside flanker position in a much-anticipated change, as veteran Aaron Cruden graduates to the starting XV.
On Sunday, 2019 Super Rugby Champions Crusaders travel to Wellington to face a bruised Hurricanes for their first Aotearoa game. The Canes were on the receiving end of Blues ferocity last Sunday and have called on bulldozers Vaea Fifita and Ardie Savea into the starting XV, in the lock position, and at the base of the scrum respectively to provide the much-needed boost, while Jordie Barret is still kept out with injury.
Coach Razor of the Crusaders has welcomed back Vice-Captain David Havili, while the squad is without 26-year-old Scott Barrett who is nursing a foot injury. It will be Codie Taylor’s first game as Captain of the Crusaders.
Schedule for Super Rugby Aotearoa
All times East African (GMT +3)
Saturday, June 20
10:05 am – Chiefs vs Blues, FMG Stadium, Waikato
Sunday, June 21
06:35 am – Hurricanes vs Crusaders, Wellington Stadium
CHIEFS VS BLUES
Chiefs to face Blues
Starting XV: Aidan Ross, Samisoni Taukei’aho, Nepo Laulala, Tupou Vaa’l, Naitoa Ah Kuoi, Luke Jacobson, Lachlan Boshier, Pita Gus Sowakula, Brad Weber, Aaron Cruden, Sean Wainui, Anton Lienert-Brown, Quinn Tupaea, Shaun Stevenson, Damian McKenzie.
Reserves: Bradley Slater, Reuben O’Neill, Ross Geldenhuys, Adam Thomson, Dylan Nel, Lisati Milo-Harris, Kaleb Trask, Solomon Alaimalo
Blues to face Chiefs
Starting XV: Alex Hodgman, James Parsons, Ofa Tuungafasi, Patrick Tuipulotu, Josh Goodhue, Akira Ioane, Dalton Papalii, Hoskins Sotutu, Sam Nock, Otere Black, Caleb Clarke, TJ Faiane, Rieko Ioane, Mark Telea, Beauden Barrett.
Reserves: Kurt Eklund, Marcel Renata, Sione Mafileo, Gerard Cowley-Tuioti, Tony Lamborn, Finlay Christie, Harry Plummer, Matt Duffie
Referee: Ben O’Keeffe
Assistant 1: Mike Fraser
Assistant 2: Paul Williams
TMO: James Doleman
HURRICANES VS CRUSADERS
Hurricanes to face Crusaders
Starting XV: Fraser Armstrong, Dane Coles [cc], Tyrel Lomax, James Blackwell, Vaea Fifita, Reed Prinsep, Du’Plessis Kirifi, Ardie Savea, TJ Perenara [cc], Jackson Garden-Bachop, Ben Lam, Ngani Laumape, Vince Aso, Wes Goosen, Chase Tiatia.
Reserves: Asafo Aumua, Ben May, Alex Fidow, Scott Scrafton, Gareth Evans, Jamie Booth, Billy Proctor, Kobus Van Wyk
Crusaders to face Hurricanes
Starting XV: Joe Moody, Codie Taylor (C), Michael Alaalatoa, Samuel Whitelock, Mitchell Dunshea, Cullen Grace, Billy Harmon, Whetukamokamo Douglas (VC), Bryn Hall, Richie Mo’unga, George Bridge, Jack Goodhue, Braydon Ennor, Sevu Reece, Will Jordan.
Reserves: Brodie McAlister, George Bower, Oliver Jager, Luke Romano, Ethan Blackadder, Mitchell Drummond, David Havili (VC), Leicester Faingaanuku
Referee: Brendon Pickerill
Assistant 1: James Doleman
Assistant 2: Ben O’Keeffe
TMO: Mike Fraser
Also, read: Super Rugby Aotearoa 2020 Is Here
Author: Lewis Ssemujju
Lewis is a talkative, and budding writer with lots of bias to rugby and weirdly – SEO. He has a passion for philanthropy.