Chris Noakes heading home
July 1, 2013
The Blues lost to the Sharks in the death (video available only in Australia)%]
Blues five-eighth Chris Noakes is returning home from South Africa with a bruised thigh, further damaging the Auckland side's fading hopes of making the Super Rugby play-offs.
Noakes sustained the injury during the Blues' narrow loss to the Sharks at Kings Park in Durban on Saturday, but he expects to return for the team's final game of the regular season against the Chiefs on July 13. Counties rookie Baden Kerr, meanwhile, has the task of conducting the Blues' attack while Southland utility Marty McKenzie will join the squad in Bloemfontein as injury cover.
The Blues also have fitness-related concerns for Keven Mealamu and Peter Saili, but both are expected to play the must-win game against the Cheetahs this weekend. Mealamu has aggravated the calf injury that has plagued his return to the Blues squad since March, complaining of tightness in the muscle after the match in Durban, but coach Sir John Kirwan is hopeful he will be available for selection. Saili has a haematoma but expects to be fit for the penultimate game of the regular season.
The eighth-placed Blues can still make the top six if they defeat the Cheetahs in Bloemfontein then beat the Chiefs at Eden Park. They face a five-way battle with the Cheetahs, New South Wales Waratahs, Sharks and Stormers for the last available spot in the Super Rugby play-offs.
Super Rugby 2013 Aggregated Table
John Taylor argues the world's best XVs players must be given a chance to play in the Olympics to increase the appeal of the game
The All Blacks' form is not a peaking issue, but Hansen must threaten to wield his axe, to demand improvement, Craig Dowd writes
"It has been the World Cup that smashed down the gender barriers of the sport." Tom Hamilton looks back at a remarkable tournament
A selection of the best pictures from England's historic World Cup triumph in Paris as they beat Canada 21-9