Anthony Boric will partner Ali Williams in the second-row for the Blues in their Super Rugby clash with the Rebels in Auckland on Saturday.
Anthony Boric will partner Ali Williams in the second-row for the Blues in their clash with the Rebels at Eden Park on Saturday.
The All Black lock returns to the fray after a neck injury in one of five changes made my Sir John Kirwan. Culum Retallick is the man Boric replaces, with the 28-year-old not included in the matchday 22 as Kirwan looks to rest some of his hard-grafters.
It is this policy that sees Luke Braid relegated to the bench, with Brendon O'Connor taking over the number seven jersey. Elsewhere in the pack, Quentin MacDonald replaces the injured Keven Mealamu at hooker. At loosehead prop Tim Perry comes in for Tom McCartney.
“Some of our guys have clocked up high Ks and it's important that we give them a little bit of a break,” explained Kirwan.
“We think Tim is getting better and better, there's lots of competition on that loosehead side so he gets another crack at it.
“Brendon's been coming off the bench and doing a great job. Although we don't want Braidy out of the football game altogether he's another one of the guys who has played just about every minute of every game so we need to be careful moving forward.”
Among the backs, Rene Ranger moves from the wing to outside centre due to an ankle injury to Jackson Willison. Francis Saili shifts one place to inside centre to accommodate Ranger's arrival. George Moala takes over the number 11 jersey from Ranger.
The Rebels find themselves second from bottom in the Australian conference and struggling with off-field indiscretions, but Kirwan insists that there will be no complacency from his troops.
“This Rebels side is a very good side,” said Kirwan.
“They have been unlucky but they come over here with confidence and they'd be hoping that we're underestimating them.
“That won't be happening.”
Blues: 15 Charles Piutau, 14 Frank Halai, 13 Rene Ranger, 12 Francis Saili, 11 George Moala, 10 Chris Noakes, 9 Piri Weepu, 8 Peter Saili, 7 Brendon O'Connor, 6 Steven Luatua, 5 Ali Williams (c), 4 Anthony Boric, 3 Angus Ta'avao, 2 Quentin MacDonald, 1 Tim Perry
Replacements:16 Gafatasi Su'a, 17 Ofa Tu'ungafasi, 18 Ronald Raaymakers, 19 Luke Braid, 20 Jamison Gibson-Park, 21 Baden Kerr, 22 Lolagi Visinia.
Date: Saturday, May 11
Kick-off: 19:35 local (08:35 BST, 07:35 GMT)
Venue: Eden Park, Auckland
Referee: Garratt Williamson
Assistant Referees: Jonathon White and Shane McDermott
TMO: Ben Skeen