The Blues' draw with the Chiefs last weekend ended their playoff hopes and seemed to leave coach Tana Umaga's team with little to play for.

But as part of a much-changed side for their trip to Samoa, there is at least one chief who maintains the Blues' clash with the Reds is far from meaningless.

Patrick Tuipulotu is among a number of past and present Blues players with strong links to Samoa, with tonight's match in Apia representing a homecoming for many in the club.

And it's for that reason Tuipulotu - last year bestowed the chiefly title of Sa'u, from the village of Apolima - was adamant about his side's motivation against the similarly-struggling Reds.


"It'll mean a lot ... to be able to go back home and give back," Tuipulotu said. "For most of [the locals], it'll just feel like their big brother has come home to play.

"You see a lot of Polynesian boys play for top teams like the All Blacks and Aussie - all over the world. So to go back and see where we came from will be a big part of getting up to play there."

Even setting aside their level of ambition for tonight, the Blues should be capable of treating their "home" fans to a victory, given the Reds have only three of those from 12 games this season. Complicating matters, though, is the rotation Umaga has chosen to implement in his squad, with one eye on Wednesday's encounter with the Lions.

But the coach, like Tuipulotu, insisted the Blues had plenty of reasons to remain driven tonight. Regardless of the unpleasant reality of the Super Rugby standings, the Blues' relationship with the Pacific Islands meant the match would assume greater significance than a glance at the fixture list would first suggest.

"We've got a lot of connection as a club with Samoa," Umaga said. "Obviously with myself being Samoan, it means a great deal to us to go back there and represent our families and our club."

Blues team

Melani Nanai, Declan O'Donnell, Rene Ranger, TJ Faiane, Rieko Ioane, Piers Francis, Sam Nock, Steven Luatua, Kara Pryor, Jimmy Tupou, Gerard Cowley-Tuioti, Patrick Tuipulotu, Sione Mafileo, James Parsons (c), Alex Hodgman.
Reserves: Hame Faiva, Sam Prattley, Ofa Tu'ungafasi, Akira Ioane, Murphy Taramai, Billy Guyton, Stephen Perofeta, Jordan Trainor.