Blues star suffers fractured jaw during pre-season game in Japan

Publish Date
Sunday, 4 February 2024, 9:30PM

By Christopher Reive

Blues captain Patrick Tuipulotu is set for a lengthy stint on the sidelines.

After suffering a fractured jaw in the first half of the side’s pre-season win over Tokyo Sungoliath at Chichibunomiya Rugby Stadium on Saturday, the 43-test All Blacks lock will return to New Zealand early where he is expected to require surgery.

The Blues are preparing to be without the services of their newly appointed captain for eight to 10 weeks. That timeframe would likely see him return in April, around nine rounds into the new Super Rugby Pacific season.

“This is a tough blow for Patrick, especially early on in the season,” Blues coach Vern Cotter said.

“We accept injuries are part of our game and we’re wishing Patty a speedy recovery knowing he’ll still offer plenty to the group from a leadership perspective over the next few weeks.

“This is a resilient group and we’ve got a strong stock of locks to call on while he recovers.”

Cotter said a decision on who will take over the Blues captaincy in Tuipulotu’s absence would be made in the coming days, with the team preparing for their second clash against Japanese opposition next weekend when they will meet the Yokohama Canon Eagles at Nippatsu Mitsuzawa Stadium.

It’s the latest setback for Tuipulotu, who suffered a broken arm late in the Blues 2023 campaign and missed the Super Rugby finals series as a result.

Incoming coach Cotter selected him as his captain for 2024 ahead of 2023 leader Dalton Papalii, noting his strong influence on the team.

“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.”

This article was first published on and is republished here with permission

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