Super Rugby: Bye week schedule allows Blues to pick Rieko Ioane for Waratahs clash

All Blacks winger Rieko Ioane is likely to feature for the Blues when they host the Waratahs this weekend.

The 22-year-old has made six straight appearances this season, which would normally mean he needed to be rested under the All Blacks welfare protocol.

But the Blues confirmed to Newshub on Tuesday that the recent bye week resets the rest period, meaning Ioane is available for selection.

The Blues week off followed the win over the Sunwolves last month, with Ioane starting both games against the Highlanders and Stormers.

With Tanielu Tele'a suspended, Melani Nanai dealing with a hematoma on his knee and injured duo Matt Duffie and Caleb Clarke available, the Blues are light on match-hardened three-quarters.

Ioane's inclusion against the second-placed Australian Conference side will be a big boost as the Blues seek four straight wins. 

Duffie told Newshub Ioane is key to their 2019 resurgence, both on and off the field.

"[Rieko] is a great player. He is a very good athlete and a big part of our squad - he is also really growing in that leadership role.

"He is very close to some of the younger players in the group.

"He is great for the region, great for the club and great for the fans.

"He's very important for us."

Matt Duffie hasn't played in 2019.
Matt Duffie hasn't played in 2019. Photo credit: Photosport
The wing/fullback played for the All Blacks in 2017.
The wing/fullback played for the All Blacks in 2017. Photo credit: Getty

Duffie's 2019 campaign has been hampered by a hamstring injury that he struggled to rehab. The former NRL winger returned two weeks ago, suiting up for the Blues development side.

The 28-year-old is a decent shot at earning his 24th Super Rugby cap against the Waratahs, given the limited wing stocks.

Duffie is hoping to play a significant role as the Blues look to challenge for a playoff spot for the first time since 2011.                                                    

"I have a lot of motivation to get back out there and contribute to this team.

"I'm passionate about being successful in this jersey and the last three seasons I probably haven't got the success I envisioned when I got here.  

"My motivation is probably two-fold. One to prove to everyone that I can still perform at this level and the other is to succeed in the jersey."

The Waratahs have been inconsistent this season, toppling the Crusaders in Sydney, but losing to the Sunwolves and Brumbies in a three week period.

Duffie expects a motivated Waratahs will await the Blues at Eden Park.

"They pretty much have Wallabies in every jersey in their backline," Duffie said.

"You have to think about that bounce back factor coming off such a tough loss.

"They will be filthy with themselves.

"We will come up against a pretty motivated side so we will have to play really well. We have to keep improving in order to get another win at home which would be great."


Join Newshub for live updates of the Blues vs Waratahs from 7:30pm Saturday.