Hosts Blues brace for Brumbies Super Rugby backlash

rugby12 June 2024 06:47
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Players of Blues © Gallo Images

All Blacks flanker Dalton Papali'i said the Blues expect a backlash from a Brumbies side looking for revenge in Friday's Super Rugby semifinals.

The New Zealand team routed the Brumbies 46-7 when the sides last met in April during the regular season with the Blues running in seven tries at home.

The Blues host the Brumbies again at Eden Park for a place in the grand final against the Hurricanes or the Chiefs, who meet on Saturday.

The Brumbies bounced back from their shellacking in Auckland by winning all of their seven games since and Papali'i expects the Australians to come out all guns blazing.

"It's going to be a tough one, especially with the Brumbies coming over here – they are going to throw the kitchen sink at us," the 32-test All Black told reporters on Wednesday.

"We are leaving no stone unturned coming into this game. We know the Brumbies are going to be coming here with a vengeance."

Papali'i will captain the hosts with regular Blues skipper Patrick Tuipulotu sidelined by a knee injury from the quarterfinal win over the Fijian Drua.

The Blues have home advantage and no Australian has even won a Super Rugby knock-out game in New Zealand, but Papali'i said none of that will matter come kick-off.

"We have a sort of rivalry with these boys (the Brumbies) – every time we play them, you know it's going to be a physical game."

In anticipation of a battle of the packs at Eden Park, Brumbies head coach Stephen Larkham has named six replacement forwards on his bench.

"The majority of the Blues game comes through their forwards, they have one of the biggest packs in the competition, they are pretty dominant with their scrum, maul and ball carrying," said the former Australia international.

"We want to make sure we have guys to come on for the back end of the game to bring some energy."

Experienced Wallabies prop James Slipper returns to beef up the Brumbies pack having recovered from a calf strain.

"He gives confidence to the other front-rowers and has the ability to fix challenges on the run, which is something I think we'll have to do this weekend," Larkham added.