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Nucifora axes Toeava in search for ‘spark’ against the Crusaders

Written by Andre Bosch (KSA Shark ©)

Posted in :In the news, Super 14 on 22 Apr 2008 at 06:58
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Desperate times, desperate measures. Blues coach David Nucifora has demoted All Black midfielder Isaia Toeava and handed exciting prospects Taniela Moa and David Smith their first starts of the season in Friday’s make-or-break visit to the Crusaders.

Marc Hinton of RugbyHeaven NZ reports that Nucifora has made three changes to his backline for the AMI Stadium matchup that his team almost certainly needs to win to keep alive its shot at a semifinal spot, the most contentious of which will be the dropping of Toeava to the bench.

The big-stepping Anthony Tuitavake moves into Toeava’s No 13 jersey which allows speedster Smith to earn his first start of the year and just his second outing for the Blues. Rudi Wulf retains his place on the left wing.

The other change is at halfback where Moa finally gets a start that the critics have been calling for. The 23-year-old will play his 14th game for the Blues, but it will be the first occasion he has run out in the No 9 jersey.

Nucifora said after unveiling his lineup that the changes would hopefully provide a “spark” to the team’s attack which had floundered in the fortnight before last weekend’s bye. The Blues suffered back-to-back losses to the NSW Waratahs (away) and ACT Brumbies (home) that have placed their season on the precipice.

“We just decided we needed to make some changes to try and spark a few things,” said the under-pressure Blues coach. “Anthony brings a different type of game into centre, and we feel he’s best suited this week to play there against them.”

The coach also admitted that a visit to play the old enemy (whom the Blues hold a winning record against in Super rugby) was as good a time as any to try and regain that spark.

“The boys have no trouble getting up for the game, there’s no doubt about that. I do see it as a positive, I think it is a good thing to be going down there to play them. It’s a big challenge for us and if anything is going to get us up it’ll be this.”

Nucifora also attempted to play down the “must-win” nature of the visit to AMI Stadium.

“All the games for all those teams on the points table are must-win,” he said. “You’ve only got to take a quick glance at the table and see that everyone needs to keep winning that’s in that big group. Yeah, we need to take points.”

Nucifora has left his forward pack intact, though he made it more than clear that the sort of rugby that had been produced over the previous fortnight was a long way short of the mark.

“We just aren’t playing at our best at the moment. We’ve tinkered with a few things this week with selection, and we’re not far off it.

“You’ve only got to look at other results in this competition … there are no poor teams and you just have a very slim margin for error and if you’re only a few perecnt off your best you’re going to get beaten.

“That’s where we’ve been, and we’ve got to turn it around this week. We’ve got a huge game in front of us. And we’ll be going down there and giving it our best shot.”

BLUES: 15 Isa Nacewa, 14 David Smith, 13 Anthony Tuitavake, 12 Benson Stanley, 11 Rudi Wulf, 10 Nick Evans, 9 Taniela Moa, 8 Nick Williams, 7 Daniel Braid, 6 Jerome Kaino, 5 Troy Flavell (captain), 4 Anthony Boric, 3 John Afoa, 2 Keven Mealamu, 1 Tony Woodcock.
Reserves: 16 Nick White, 17 Bronson Murray, 18 Kurtis Haiu, 19 Justin Collins, 20 Danny Lee, 21 Isaia Toeava, 22 Ben Atiga.


  • And they are losing Nacewa next season.


    One of Auckland Rugby and the Blues’ most versatile backs, Isa Nacewa, will play his rugby in Ireland next season.

    The 25 year-old has signed with the Leinster Club in Ireland and will join them later this year at the conclusion of his contractual obligations in New Zealand.

    Nacewa will not be available for Auckland in this year’s Air New Zealand Cup

    For Nacewa making the decision was difficult.

    “I really enjoy playing for the Blues and Auckland but am very aware I have to make the most of my playing career while I can. All of us in this game know it is for a finite time-period so it really comes down to making smart decisions short and long-term.

    “Having a shot at the All Blacks was and will continue to be my long-term goal. But the reality is that’s not an option for me right now so I have to get on with my career.”

    At the 2003 World Cup, a 21 year-old Nacewa was called into the Fiji squad and spent two minutes on the field. At the time he had no idea this would render him ineligible to ever play for New Zealand.

    News of Nacewa’s departure has been a tough blow for both the Blues’ and Auckland Rugby but it comes as no surprise.

    “Isa has been in demand for quite some time. He is such an outstanding player to have in your line-up and has the ability to cover nearly every backline position. His authority and leadership within this squad is exemplary and Leinster is very fortunate to have him,” says Blues’ coach David Nucifora.

    Blues and Auckland CEO Andy Dalton commends Nacewa for his loyalty.

    “We have been aware of Isa’s popularity overseas and duly impressed at his ability to resist tempting offers in order to continue playing for us and pursue the right to wear a black jersey. It is a shame Isa is even in this predicament and I hope long-term there will be a way he can play for the country he was born and raised in. Either way, our doors will always be open to him.”

    Born in New Zealand, Nacewa began playing rugby at the age of five and first gained provincial selection as a 20 year-old. He made his Blues debut in 2005 against the Highlanders (54 caps for Auckland, 40 caps for the Blues).

  • Comment 1, posted at 22.04.08 07:00:30 by KSA Shark © (FJ!ELN!) Reply
    KSA Shark ©
  • C’mon Blues!!!!!!!!!!!!! Do it for the Saffa sides.

  • Comment 2, posted at 22.04.08 07:01:07 by KSA Shark © (FJ!ELN!) Reply
    KSA Shark ©
  • I think they’ll do it

  • Comment 3, posted at 22.04.08 07:17:45 by robdylan (Sharks Forever!) Reply
    Competition Winner Administrator
  • F^&K I hope they do.

  • Comment 4, posted at 22.04.08 07:25:03 by KSA Shark © (FJ!ELN!) Reply

    KSA Shark ©

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