Auckland Blues

Blues squad given all clear

The Blues squad that played the Hurricanes remained in Wellington post-game, and yesterday all returned negative Covid tests.

It is bye week, so the squad has now dispersed and will officially reassemble at the weekend with training to re-start on Sunday at the temporary base in Cambridge, Waikato.

The remainder of the squad and staff that did travel to Wellington have relocated to Cambridge - and remain in a separate bubble awaiting the results of their Covid Tests - due back today.

If they are clear, then they too will be free to disperse.

All Black Nepo Laulala upbeat ahead of first season with Blues

The move didn’t go to plan, however, with Laulala suffering a horrific knee injury that kept him off the park for the entire season.

Heading into his first season with the Blues, Laulala will be hopeful that no such fate befalls him ahead of Saturday’s clash with the Hurricanes in Wellington.

“Unfortunately, I’ve had quite a few season-ending injuries, and I wasn’t able to pick up the games I probably should have,” Laulala said in the build-up to the opening weekend of Super Rugby Aotearoa.

Blues name eight All Blacks to face Chiefs and Crusaders in game-of-three-halves

After missing out in last week’s game-of-three-halves against the Chiefs and Hurricanes in Upper Hutt, Rieko and Akira Ioane, Patrick Tuipulotu, Caleb Clarke, Dalton Papalii, Nepo Laulala, Karl Tu’inukuafe and Alex Hodgman will play on Saturday.

In doing so, Laulala will make his first appearance for the Blues since signing with the Auckland franchise last year, and has been named to start against his former side, the Chiefs.

Chiefs come to party, host Blues, Crusaders in pre-season finale

The noon fixture (live on Sky Sport) will be played at Hautapu Sports in Cambridge and will be closed to the public – NZR level 2 operating protocols will apply due to the close proximity to Auckland and a desire to take maximum precautions ahead of next weekend's Super Rugby Aotearoa kickoff.

Head injury forces Blues veteran to quit rugby

Parsons,34, has played 115 games for the Auckland based franchise and sits behind only Keven Mealaumu, Jerome Kaino and Tony Woodcock on the list of most capped players for the franchise.

He made his debut against the Highlanders in 2012 and play 106 matches for North Harbour.

Parsons made his international debut against Scotland at Murrayfield in 2014 and was recalled for a second test against Australia in Wellington two years later.

Parsons, said he's retiring on medical advice, after being out of the game for several months due to a head injury.

Blues star nearly beats Beauden Barrett's fitness record as Super Rugby pre-season training kicks-off

Looking to build on their second-place finish in Super Rugby Aotearoa last year, the Blues congregated at their Alexandra Park training base on Thursday and were put through their paces with their annual Bronco test that takes place on the first day of each pre-season.

It was that fitness drill that saw All Blacks star Beauden Barrett‘s name dominate headlines seven months ago as he crushed the Auckland franchise’s test record upon return to training from last year’s COVID-19 lockdown.

Leon MacDonald hints that talented 20-year-old could take Beauden Barrett's spot at the Blues

Since the 2003 title win, the Blues have managed just one finals appearance, despite boasting the largest catchment area in New Zealand. Much of their lack of success has been rightly or wrongly attributed to the side not possessing a world-class flyhalf and Barrett’s injection into the side late in 2020 coincided with a rich vein of form for the Aucklanders, with the Blues eventually finishing the Super Rugby Aotearoa competition in second place.

Blues skipper Patrick Tuipulotu: 'We can't be content — we have to get even better'

For Tuipulotu, more than most, it’s been a major mission, given the uncertainty, the changing goalposts and the personal investment he had in the great Blues Super Rugby turnaround which in 2020 finally stopped being an empty promise and morphed into a glorious overdue reality.

Blues bring back their coaching group for another crack in 2021

The franchise confirmed ahead of this week's squad announcement for 2021 (7am Thursday) that their entire coaching group had reupped for next season at least as they look to make further ground in the wake of their 2020 breakthrough.

Defence coach Tana Umaga, who is closely linked with the Moana Pasifika group seeking to come into Super Rugby for 2022, had already announced his one-season extension at the Blues to join head coach Leon MacDonald, while forwards coach Tom Coventry and back attack/skills guru Dan Halangahu have confirmed they will remain on board “until 2022”.

'It took a bit of convincing': Dan Carter sheds light on decision to join Blues

Carter, 38, bowed out of international rugby after leading the All Blacks to victory at the 2015 Rugby World Cup, the three-time World Rugby Player of the Year then spent three seasons in Paris with Racing 92 before joining the Kobelco Steelers in Japan in 2018.

However, the global Covid-19 pandemic put an early end to domestic rugby in Japan in 2020 and Carter decided to return to New Zealand to take up a role with the Blues in Super Rugby Aotearoa.