No RTS or Barrett but Blues say ‘B’ team won’t be easybeats against Tahs

The former Waratah who now helps coach the Blues says he’d be delighted if NSW believed the in-form Kiwi outfit were sending over an easybeat B team for a final-round clash with the Tahs.

With the Blues holding an unassailable lead at the top of the Super Rugby ladder, head coach Leon McDonald opted to leave out Beauden Barrett, Roger Tuivasa-Sheck and a large number of regular starters from the side to play NSW at Leichhardt Oval.

With Caleb Clarke and Rieko Ioane also injured, all bar one of the Blues’ backline will have fewer than 20 Super caps but McDonald was quick to state that the decision to rest his superstar players was in no way disrespecting our opposition.

How the Waratahs feel about that remains to be seen but it’s not the first time this season a New Zealand heavyweight has rested players against NSW. The Crusaders left Richie Mo’unga and three other All Blacks out of their Leichhardt Oval fixture in April and lost the game.

Movement on the table isn’t a factor in this game but a victory for NSW or the Blues would provide valuable momentum heading into the quarter-finals a week later.

Daniel Halangahu, a 74-game Waratah pivot who is now an assistant coach at the Blues, told the Herald he was fine with the perception that they were sending over an under-strength team to Sydney.

We don’t give up games, under any situation, and really, if anyone wants to write us off we are happy for that. We enjoy being written off sometimes, Halangahu said.

If you look at the battle up front, we will take some confidence in the names we have got there as well. We have three All Blacks in that tight five. We feel like we have done a team that will go over there and do a job.

Everyone is going to need some depth in the finals and touch wood we have already seen it with Caleb last week and we had a bit of a scare with Rieko a couple of weeks back, we know we are going to need the depth in our squad and those guys have been training really well. I guess it is a luxury that we don’t have to pick Beauden Barrett but it is a good opportunity for them.

We are going into this game really confident they will do us proud and put pressure on the Waratahs in the key areas of the game.

McDonald told media the loss of a bye week in the New Zealand section of Super Rugby Pacific – due to make-up COVID games – meant many of the regular starters had been carrying niggles for many weeks.

We are in no way disrespecting our opposition. We have a very healthy respect for the Waratahs and believe we have named a team able to perform to our standards against them, MacDonald said in a statement.

There are some fresh faces but the Blues aren’t without experience, with Ricky Riccitelli, Nepo Laulala and Luke Romano in the pack, and Ofa Tu’inukuafe and Akira Ioane on the bench.

In a season where new challenges have emerged each week, the Waratahs will now be faced with the unexpected equation of going into the game as favourites, and how they handle it will be fascinating.

With faint traces of sky blue still in his blood, Halangahu said he’d been pleased to see the Waratahs get back on their feet this year after some dark days in 2021.

It was tough to see some of the things they went through last year, especially for my great old mate Chris Whitaker, Halangahu siaid.

I know how hard he works and how good a coach he is. I know that first-hand, as a player. Anyone who knows him knows what a quality bloke he is. So I am happiest for guys like Whits . . . that’s been good to see. But I won’t be doing Whits any favours this weekend, can I just say that.

Watch every match of the on the Home of Rugby, Stan Sport. Continues this weekend with Crusaders v Reds (Friday 4:30pm AEST), Moana Pasifika v Brumbies (Saturday 4:30pm AEST), and Waratahs v Blues (Saturday 7:15pm AEST). All streaming ad-free, live and on demand only on .

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