Double blow for Blues
The Blues' defeat to the Sharks over the weekend was compounded by the fact that Chris Noakes and Piri Weepu will be returning home.
The Blues' defeat to the Sharks over the weekend was compounded by the fact that Chris Noakes and Piri Weepu will be returning home ahead of their crucial fixture against the Cheetahs in Bloemfontein.
The Blues were beaten after the final whistle in their game over the weekend and the news of Noakes' return home will put more pressure on the Auckland sides play-off aspirations.
Utility back Marty McKenzie will fly out to Bloemfontein as a replacement. Noakes is expected to recover in time to face the Chiefs in the Blues’ final game of the regular season at Eden Park on July 13.
No.8 Peter Saili has a haematoma and hooker Keven Mealamu has some tightness in his calf, but both players are expected to be fit to play the Cheetahs this weekend.
Blues head coach John Kirwan insists his team is still in the hunt for a playoff spot despite suffering an injury time defeat to the Sharks in Durban overnight.
It was a heartbreaker for the Blues who fought back valiantly from a 5-17 halftime deficit to score 15 unanswered points and take a 20-17 lead late in the game, but a try in injury time to Sharks fullback Riaan Viljoen snatched victory from the visitors.
"We’re pretty shattered," Kirwan said.
"All the boys are obviously very disappointed. We couldn’t win a break in the first-half. We wanted to start well and obviously that didn’t happen.
"I was really proud of the boys because I felt the game was going against us but we stayed really disciplined and we hung in there and then in the second-half we did enough to win.
"We felt we were pretty hard done by late in the game, there were a couple of calls that went against us and probably for the first time this season we deserved to win and we didn’t so that was really disappointing for us. It was a huge game for the season," added the coach.
The Blues game against the Cheetahs is the first play-off game for both sides with the winner almost guaranteed a spot in the top six.