Blues to face Chiefs and Crusaders in pre-season clash

Author
Newstalk ZB / NZ Herald,
Publish Date
Thu, 18 Feb 2021, 8:42PM
(Photo / Photosport)
(Photo / Photosport)

Blues to face Chiefs and Crusaders in pre-season clash

Author
Newstalk ZB / NZ Herald,
Publish Date
Thu, 18 Feb 2021, 8:42PM

The Blues' Super Rugby Aotearoa campaign is back on track after having to cancel a pre-season game against the Crusaders set for Eden Park on Saturday.

With Auckland moving to alert level 2, the Blues have arranged a game of three halves against the Chiefs and Crusaders in Cambridge.

The fixture will take place on Saturday but is closed to the public.

The Blues have been isolated at home with individual trainings while Auckland was in level 3 lockdown. Both the Crusaders and Chiefs offered to host the Blues, with a change of alert levels leading to agreed plans for a game of three halves based in the Waikato.

The Crusaders will now stick with their plan to fly north, however will take the field in Cambridge instead of the previously scheduled Eden Park. The first game of three halves in 2021 was played in Upper Hutt last Saturday with the Chiefs, Blues and the Hurricanes taking part.

The pre-season match will serve as a welcome opportunity for all teams to test scenarios and combinations in a live fixture before the Super Rugby Aotearoa season kicks off next Friday, February 26.

There will be no tickets sold to the event as the match will be played under NZR level 2 Operating Protocols due to the close proximity to Auckland and the need to take maximum precautions ahead of Super Rugby Aotearoa.

Chiefs CEO Michael Collins said that they have erred on the side of caution to play under level 2 restrictions, especially given the late decision to proceed with the match.

"Our primary focus is to provide opportunities that will best prepare the Chiefs squad for Super Rugby Aotearoa and also combat against the many uncertainties that exist for us all. Testing ourselves against the Blues and Crusaders provides that for us.

"We are compelled to err on the side of caution and operate the match with level 2 restrictions. Auckland is still in level 2, it's a short drive down State Highway 1 to get here and we know this fixture would have attracted thousands of passionate fans if we sold tickets to the public. With the stadium unavailable and less than three days to turn this event around, we've decided to play it safe and prioritise fans attending matches when the 2021 Super Rugby season begins."

Blues Head Coach Leon McDonald is delighted his team will take the field on Saturday.

"Things were not looking good for us as we have been unable to train as a team, so this is a real lifeline and vital as we try to make up time before the start of the competition. We are humbled by the support we have received from the clubs, especially for the Chiefs' offer to host us and for the Crusaders who have been so supportive through this entire pre-season upheaval."