The Blues will take a strong mix of proven and exciting talent to compete at the Brisbane Global 10s tournament.
They will take a 21-strong team that includes two All Blacks, four Maori All Blacks, and three New Zealand Sevens players for the inaugural event on 11-12 February.
Leading the charge is current All Black George Moala and fellow block-busting midfield back Rene Ranger. Moala, who has four caps for the All Blacks, played on last year’s Northern Tour, while Ranger, returning from an ACL injury that sidelined him for much of 2016, played six times for the All Blacks as well as three years for the New Zealand Sevens team.
Maori All Blacks include flying Northland loosie forward Kara Pryor, experienced halfback Billy Guyton, hooker Joe Royal and prop Marcel Renata, while New Zealand Sevens players will no doubt show their attacking prowess in the form of North Harbour loose forward Murphy Taramai, Manawatu winger Ambrose Curtis and exciting Taranaki winger Declan O’Donnell.
The team will be co-captained by wing/fullback Matt Duffie and prop Sam Prattley.
The 10s coach Steve Jackson, who coached the Blues to victory in the 2015 World Club 10s in Singapore, said the club was excited about the occasion.
“We have had some experience with 10s and believe it offers more to us as a preparation for the Super Rugby competition than Sevens,” Jackson said.
“The 10s game has more structure like 15s and involves players in all positions – tight forwards, loosies, inside backs, outside backs. But there is the space for exciting open running rugby like Sevens.
“We have some exciting runners and ball-handlers both in the backs and forwards, and also some skilful players, who have filled in as replacements, who have earned their chance after training really diligently through our pre-season.”
The Blues team is:
1 Josh Goodhue, 2 Hapakuki Moala-Liava’a, 3 Tom Robinson, 4 Sam Prattley (Co-Captain), 5 Kara Pryor, 6 Marcel Renata, 7 Brandon Nansen, 8 Joe Royal, 9 Scott Scrafton, 10 Murphy Taramai, 11 Ambrose Curtis, 12 Matt Duffie, 13 Pasqualle Dunn, 14 Billy Guyton, 15 George Moala, 16 Sam Nock, 17 Declan O’Donnell, 18 Stephen Perofeta, 19 Rene Ranger, 20 Jordan Trainor, 21 Matt Vaega.
Coaches: Steve Jackson, Dave Ellis