McAlister hoping to bid farewell in style

Departing Blues utility back Luke McAlister is hoping for a fitting final appearance at Eden Park on Friday when takes to the field in the Super Rugby play-offs against the Waratahs.

Departing Blues utility back Luke McAlister is hoping for a fitting final appearance at Eden Park on Friday when takes to the field in the Super Rugby play-offs against the Waratahs.

The 27-year-old New Zealand star is set to join Toulouse following the conclusion of the World Cup after signing a three-year contract there last week.

McAlister, an inside centre with the ability to play at fly-half, will be making his 50th Super Rugby appearance for the Blues against the ’Tahs.

Having grown up in Auckland and played all but the rugby he played for Sale after the 2007 World Cup in the franchise’s colours, McAlister admits it means a lot to achieve that milestone.

“It’s something I’m really proud of,” he said. “I love playing for the Blues and putting on that Blues jersey.

“Hopefully it’s not my last, if we do the job and then go on to the semi.”

McAlister has not had a lot of experience at knockout rugby and he recalled the last time he played such a game was in Cardiff in October 2007 when the All Blacks exited the World Cup at at the hands of France.

And he believes the key lesson was that it was necessary to go “all-out”.

“You can’t leave any stone unturned,” he said.

“You’ve got to play attacking rugby, play a good brand, play to your strengths and just go hard really, and not leave anything in the changing room.”

As speculation mounted about who a possible replacement might be for him, he was unequivocal in saying he felt fellow All Black midfielder Ma’a Nonu would fit in very well in the Blues environment.

“He’s a class act, he’s been around a long time and got a lot of experience and he’s a player that I hold in high regard. I think he’d go good up here,” he said.

But for now, McAlister is focused on seeing the Blues past the Waratahs and onto the next stage of the Super 15.

“They’re a solid side up front and they like to pick-and-go and get go-forward like that and unleashing Kurtley (Beale) out the back, he’s definitely a guy we’re going to have to look after,” he said.

Meanwhile, The injured-ravaged Waratahs have suffered another major blow with star hooker Tatafu Polota-Nau to miss the match at Eden Park.

Polota-Nau suffered suspected meniscus damage to his left knee early in Saturday’s win over the Brumbies, forcing him from the field early in the second half.

In further bad news, fly-half Daniel Halangahu will miss the rest of the season with a grade two hamstring tear, with Beale set to move from full-back to number 10 in his absence, while veteran prop Al Baxter may have played his last game for NSW after being ruled out with concussion.

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