Blues change eight for Crusaders

Date published: April 23 2015

Blues boss Sir John Kirwan has made eight changes to his starting XV for Saturday's clash with the Crusaders in Christchurch.

All Blacks Tony Woodcock, Keven Mealamu and Charlie Faumuina, who all came off the bench against the Highlanders last week, will be the starting front row this week, boasting 260 Test caps and 383 Super Rugby games collectively under their belts.

Mealamu will also assume the captaincy with Jerome Kaino given time out in the All Blacks rotation – after playing in eight of the Blues’ nine games – along with James Parsons and Charles Piutau, who get their first break.

Steven Luatua returns to play at number eight with teenager Akira Ioane given a second game after his impressive debut last week, while Jimmy Cowan returns to start at scrum-half and Lolagi Visinia at full-back.

Players not considered because of injury are Patrick Tuipulotu, out with a leg injury, and Pita Ahki with a hamstring injury; both are  likely to be out for two weeks.

Northland hooker Matt Moulds comes on to the bench looking for his debut.

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

Date: Saturday, April 25
Venue: AMI Stadium, Christchurch
Kick-off: 19:35 local (07:35 GMT, 17:35 AEST, 09:35 SAST)
Referee: Chris Pollock (New Zealand)
Assistant Referees: Kane McBride (New Zealand), Jamie Nutbrown (New Zealand)
TMO: Vinny Munro (New Zealand)