After a blistering start to their campaign with a 51-7 over the Crusader Knights, the Blues Development team want to make it two from two when they face the Chiefs Development team tomorrow in Thames.
They will have more than just their opposition to contend with though, as gale-force winds and rain are expected to sweep the country tomorrow.
“The weather is going to play a huge factor in the game tomorrow – it will be an interesting challenge,” said Head Coach Jeff Wilson.
The development team have the services of Liaki Moli and Peter Saili from the Blues squad, and all of the Blues Wider Training Group players are in the starting line up.
“We’ve lost a few of the Blues players from last week who are heading to South Africa but the team is raring to go. They know they have to step up. We keep telling the boys the mark of a good player is consistency – you have to perform week in, week out.”
19-year-old Michigan Lam gets a start at first five-eighths, one of only three players in the starting line up without ITM Cup experience.
“Michigan is a good young player and has been doing well in this environment. He has done everything we have asked of him and it’s a good chance for him to show his skills,” said Wilson.
Hadleigh Parkes was on the bench for the Blues last week, and tomorrow will slot into the unfamiliar position of fullback.
Wilson believes Parkes is capable of a strong performance from fullback.
“Hadleigh has a great kicking game and that will serve him well tomorrow if the conditions are as predicted.”
North Harbour hooker James Parsons will captain the side, who Wilson describes as a natural leader who will take the added duties in his stride.
Tomorrow’s game is the first of three in a 10 day period for the development team as they prepare to host teams from Tonga and Fiji.
“It will be hard for sure, but the guys are ready for it. We will bring in a few more players, guys who are preparing for New Zealand Under-20 trials and it will be a good chance for them to impress.”
Blues Development v Chiefs Development
Saturday 3 March
Rhodes Park, Thames Rugby and Sports Club, Thames
Blues Development Team:
1. Taione Vaea
2. James Parsons (captain)
3. Ofa Tu’ungafasi
4. Liaki Moli
5. Steven Luatua
6. Daniel Pryor
7. Sean Polwart
8. Peter Saili
9. Wayne Ngaluafe
10. Michigan Lam
11. Nafi Tuitavake
12. Francis Saili
13. Corey Aporo
14. Ben Lam
15. Hadleigh Parkes
16. Ross Wright
17. Jordan Lay
18. Nathan Hughes
19. Viliami Fihaki
20. Cam Goodhue
21. Bryn Hall
22. James Semple
23. Malakai Fekitoa