Francis gets nod for Blues

Date published: March 15 2017

The Blues have made three changes and one positional tweak to their starting XV to face the Crusaders in Christchurch on Friday.

Up front, Gerard Cowley-Tuioti comes back in at lock after starting in the first two games, and will partner All Black Patrick Tuipulotu.

Jimmy Tupou will move from lock to loose forward, with All Black Jerome Kaino moving to number eight.

In the backs, Piers Francis comes in at fly-half and Melani Nanai returns on the left wing.

There is one notable addition in the reserves with former New Zealand U20s player TJ Faiane included, with the midfield back potentially to make his Super Rugby debut after being sidelined for the past two seasons with major injury and surgeries.

Blues: 15 Michael Collins, 14 Matt Duffie, 13 Rieko Ioane, 12 George Moala, 11 Melani Nanai, 10 Piers Francis, 9 Augustine Pulu, 8 Jerome Kaino, 7 Blake Gibson, 6 Jimmy Tupou, 5 Patrick Tuipulotu, 4 Gerard Cowley-Tuioti, 3 Ofa Tu’ungafasi, 2 James Parsons (c), 1 Pauliasi Manu
Replacements: 16 Matt Moulds, 17 Sam Prattley, 18 Sione Mafileo, 19 Akira Ioane, 20 Murphy Taramai, 21 Billy Guyton, 22 Ihaia West, 23 TJ Faiane

Date: Friday, March 17
Venue: AMI Stadium
Kick-off: 19:35 local (06:35 GMT)
Referee: Brendon Pickerill (New Zealand)
Assistant Referees: Angus Mabey (New Zealand), Cam Stone (New Zealand)
TMO: Aaron Paterson (New Zealand)