Experienced All Black back from injury and entrusted with Blues leadership role

David Skippers

Patrick Tuipulotu on the charge for the Blues in Super Rugby Pacific in 2023.

Experienced All Blacks and Blues second-row Patrick Tuipulotu has put his injury woes behind him and will captain the Auckland-based franchise during the 2024 Super Rugby Pacific season.

Tuipulotu is no stranger to the leadership role as he previously captained the Blues from 2019 to 2021 before heading off to Japan where he played his club rugby in 2022.

Injury setback

However, upon his return to the Blues, he broke his arm towards the end of last year’s Super Rugby Pacific campaign and reaggravated the injury while playing for Auckland in the National Provincial Championship (NPC).

Tuipulotu, who takes over the Blues captaincy from All Blacks back-row Dalton Papali’i, is looking forward to the leadership role.

“The feeling you get leading this side into battle each week is something special,” said Tuipulotu. “We’ve got a core of experienced Blues men who lead in their own way and it’s my job to empower that group of leaders to help propel the team forward.

“Captaincy comes with a weight of expectation – we represent the people of our region and as a team we strive to do our fans proud whenever we pull on the Blues jersey.”

Tuipulotu revealed that there was no qualms from Papali’i when the issue of switching the captaincy was raised with him.

“I had a chat with Dalton and he’s on board – we’re good mates. I trust him and trust I have his backing,” said Tuipulotu. “I suppose the biggest difference this time around is I’ll be doing a bit more talking to the ref than he usually would!

“We’ve set ourselves high standards for the 2024 campaign, we believe we have the squad to do something special and we’re working hard in the pre-season to make that a reality.”

Confident he’ll succeed as captain

Meanwhile, incoming Blues head coach Vern Cotter is confident Tuipulotu will do a good job in the leadership role as he has a strong influence in the squad.

“Patty is a natural leader in this group, he’s an experienced head with nearly 100 caps for the team and has the respect of the players around him. I’m confident he’ll do an excellent job leading the Blues in 2024,” said Cotter.

“We’ve got a group of guys in our squad with a range of leadership experience, so they’ll provide a sounding board and help lighten the load for Patty throughout our campaign.”

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