The Blues Development team begin their Pacific Rugby Cup campaign tonight against Samoa A at Waitemata Park (kick-off 6.30pm).
With two wins in warm-up matches against the Crusaders and Chiefs, the Blues have named a strong team to face the visitors.
The side will be captained by flanker Sean Polwart, as regular captain Joe Edwards has been forced out of the match due to injury.
Polwart is one of seven Blues squad members in the starting line-up, with the remainder of players either ITM Cup or age-group representatives.
Harbour team-mates Bryn Hall and Cody Rei pair up in the halves, while outside them is some serious pace in the form of Malakai Fekitoa, Waisake Naholo and Pita Ahki – all from the Blues camp.
Coach Bevan Cadwallader said it’s hard to know what to expect from the Samoans but does believe his team will have to step up.
“Samoa is a bit of an unknown quantity but we expect their style of play will be very physical, with strong runners and big defence.”
“The expectation on our team is to maintain the standards they have set in previous games,” said Cadwallader.
Samoa have had a mixed start to their campaign, opening with a heavy 58-19 defeat at the hands of the ACT XV, they bounced back with a 33-2 win over Sydney Academy before losing to the Western Force 34-11 last week.
With a number of Blues team members of Samoa heritage, Cadwallader expects the match will be played with a lot of passion.
It is the Blues Development team’s first Pacific Rugby Cup match; they host defending champions Fiji on Saturday followed by Japan next Thursday.
Blues Development v Samoa A
The Blues Development team to face Samoa A tonight is:
1. Sam Prattley
2. Gafatasi Su’a
3. Ofa Tu’ungfasi
4. Jack Whetton
5. Ronald Raaymakers
6. Jake Heenan
7. Sean Polwart
8. William Whetton
9. Bryn Hall
10. Cody Rei
11. Aula Silipa
12. Pita Ahki
13. Malakai Fekitoa
14. Waisake Naholo
15. Melani Va’i
16. Nathan Vella
17. Alex Wonnton
18. William Lloyd
19. Matt Va’i
20. Wayne Ngaluafe
21. Derek Carpenter
22. Sam Vaka
23. Greg Pleasants-Tate