Blues’ All Blacks return

Date published: April 30 2015

Captain Jerome Kaino and fellow All Blacks Charles Piutau and James Parsons are back in the Blues squad for Saturday's clash with the Western Force in Auckland.

Kaino said he feels refreshed, mentally and physically, after his week’s break and with six games remaining there is still plenty for the team to focus on to finish the season strongly.

Kaino and Piutau return to the starting line-up at number eight and full-back respectively with hooker Parsons coming off the bench, along with former skipper Luke Braid, who has missed the last two games after a head knock.

Akira Ioane retains his starting spot after eye-catching displays against the Highlanders and the Crusaders, with Lolagi Visinia rewarded with a strong game at fullback last week, moving to the right wing.

The ever-consistent lock Josh Bekhuis and midfield back George Moala are carrying niggling injuries and are currently bracketed with a final decision to made on Friday on their availability.

Blues: 15 Charles Piutau. 14 Lolagi Visinia, 13 Francis Saili, 12 George Moala/Hamish Northcott, 11 Melani Nanai, 10 Dan Bowden, 9 Jimmy Cowan, 8 Jerome Kaino (c), 7 Brendon O’Connor, 6 Akira Ioane, 5 Hayden Triggs, 4 Josh Bekhuis/Culum Retallick, 3 Charlie Faumuina, 2 Keven Mealamu, 1 Tony Woodcock.
Replacements: 16 James Parsons, 17 Ofa Tu’ungafasi, 18 Angus Ta’avao, 19 Steven Luatua, 20 Luke Braid, 21 Jamison Gibson-Park, 22 Ihaia West, 23 Hamish Northcott/Tevita Li.

Date: Saturday, May 2
Venue: Eden Park, Auckland
Kick-off: 17:30 local (05:30 GMT, 15:30 AEST, 07:30 SAST)
Referee: Ben O'Keeffe (New Zealand)
Assistant referees: Nick Briant (New Zealand), Paul Williams (New Zealand)
TMO: Ben Skeen (New Zealand)