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Blues just as desperate as Waratahs

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 3/05/2017

James Parsons has little time for suggestions his Blues won't be as desperate as the Waratahs in their Super Rugby showdown in Sydney on Saturday.

The visiting skipper is well aware of growing anxiety in Australia over the lop-sided trans-Tasman results this season.

All 15 such clashes have been won by New Zealand sides, prompting speculation an all-Kiwi sweep is on the cards.

The Waratahs have won their last six home games against the Blues and are coming off a classic derby defeat of the Reds in Queensland.

They are out to not only break the New Zealand duck but also make up further ground on the Australian Conference-leading Brumbies.

Parsons is ignoring all of that, if only for the fact his team have enough on their own plate.

Despite their encouraging 18-12 defeat of the Brumbies in Canberra, the visitors remain a distant fifth in the powerhouse New Zealand conference with four wins from nine.

"It's got nothing to do with Aussie versus New Zealand," Parsons said.

"It's the Blues versus the Waratahs and we've got a job to get done to keep our season alive.

"We've put ourselves in a position that we've got to fight every week from here on in."

Parsons says the impressive performance in Canberra further reinforces the fact they're a team who can now succeed regularly outside Auckland.

Just five of their last 35 away matches have been won, but four of those have come in their last nine games on the road.

"I think we're a different team. We managed to progress in that area last year and we've just wanted to step up again," he said.

"We know it's tough to play in Canberra, so we're really pleased to come out with the bonus point as well.

"The Waratahs like to play a similar style to them."

Parsons singled out the progress of rookie locks Scott Scrafton and Gerard Cowley-Tuioti as a major bonus in recent weeks, particularly given the injury-enforced absence of Patrick Tuipulotu.

All Black Tuipulotu may return from a back problem as early as next week's clash with the Cheetahs in Auckland.

First five-eighth Piers Francis returns from a wrist injury in place of Bryn Gatland in the only change from last week.

Blues: Michael Collins, Matt Duffie, George Moala, Sonny Bill Williams, Rieko Ioane, Piers Francis, Augustine Pulu, Akira Ioane, Blake Gibson, Steven Luatua, Scott Scrafton, Gerard Cowley-Tuioti, Charlie Faumuina, James Parsons (capt), Pauliasi Manu. Reserves: Matt Moulds, Ofa Tu'ungafasi, Sione Mafileo, Leighton Price, Murphy Taramai, Billy Guyton, Bryn Gatland, Melani Nanai.

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