Planet Rugby

Blues make four changes

23rd April 2014 06:33

Share:

Peter Saili Blues v Cheetahs SR 2013

Starting: Peter Saili

Blues head coach Sir John Kirwan has made four changes to his starting XV for Friday's ANZAC day clash with the Waratahs at Eden Park.

In the only change to the forward pack, Peter Saili makes his first start since round six at number eight in place of Steven Luatua as Kirwan looks to inject more physicality into the Blues' game.

"We wanted to pick a pack that was really physical," said Kirwan.

"The Waratahs are a big, strong pack so we've gone with Pete and he's really physical so Steven will come off the bench later in the game and bring his spark."

After Chris Noakes was ruled out of Friday's clash earlier in the week following a concussion he sustained against the Hurricanes, Simon Hickey will start at fly-half.

Ma'a Nonu has bounced back from a tight calf to start at inside centre ahead of Jackson Willison and Kirwan said it was great to welcome back his backline enforcer.

"He's been fantastic for us so far, he's had a little bit of a bad run with his first injury and getting straight back into it he just tightened up a bit last week," he said.

"He's brought a lot of edge to us and I thought he played really well against the Highlanders and I'm really looking forward to him getting us over the advantage line and doing what Ma'a does best on Friday night."

Frank Halai has also been reinstated to the starting XV ahead of George Moala after he produced strong cameo off the bench last week.

"George has been playing a heck of a lot and he's been playing very well," Kirwan said.

"We've asked him to play centre, left and right wing and I think he needs a break so after playing well off the bench last week we want to give Frank an opportunity to step up."

Piri Weepu has been cleared to play and has been named on the bench alongside Ihaia West who is poised to make his Super Rugby debut after joining the franchise as a replacement player for the injured Baden Kerr just two weeks ago.

"Bryn has been playing really well so it will be great to have Piri's experience on the bench and with Simon outside him and Ihaia who are both very young men, Piri's experience will be really important so it's great he's been cleared to play," Kirwan said.

On the importance of Friday's match against the Waratahs, Kirwan said:

"I don't need to hide the fact how important this match is for the franchise, for the team and for our fans. We said last week that against the Hurricanes if we lost away from home then we were going to be under pressure and we're under pressure - we've just got to get out there and go hard. It's going to be a really physical game, I don't know how many Wallabies they've got, I stopped counting so it's going to be a great match up."

Curtain raiser:

Friday's curtain raiser will celebrate 100 years of club rugby at Eden Park and two of the city's oldest clubs will take the field to commemorate the occasion.

Ponsonby is celebrating its 140th anniversary this year and has arguably one of the most impressive records in Auckland, having won 45 Gallaher Shield titles and producing dozens of All Blacks.

North Shore was founded in 1873 and is the oldest club in North Harbour. The club won the Harbour championship in 2011, their fourth title, adding to a Gallaher Shield victory when they were still part of the Auckland Rugby Union.

The match will see both teams wear traditional club uniforms.

15 Charles Piutau, 14 Frank Halai, 13 Francis Saili, 12 Ma'a Nonu, 11 Lolagi Visinia, 10 Simon Hickey, 9 Bryn Hall, 8 Peter Saili, 7 Luke Braid, 6 Jerome Kaino, 5 Tom Donnelly, 4 Patrick Tuipulotu, 3 Charlie Faumuina, 2 Keven Mealamu, 1 Tony Woodcock.
Replacements: 16 James Parsons, 17 Sam Prattley, 18 Angus Ta'avao, 19 Hayden Triggs, 20 Piri Weepu, 21 Steven Luatua, 22 Ihaia West, 23 Pita Ahki

Date: Friday, April 25
Venue: Eden Park, Auckland
Kick-off: 17.35 (05.35 GMT)
Referee: Chris Pollock (New Zealand)

Forthcoming Fixtures
FixtureDetails
All times are local
European Rugby Champions Cup
Friday , October 24
Munster vs SaracensMunster vs Saracens Preview
Saturday , October 25
Ulster vs ToulonUlster vs Toulon Preview
Scarlets vs LeicesterScarlets vs Leicester Preview
Bath vs ToulouseBath vs Toulouse Preview
Montpellier vs GlasgowMontpellier vs Glasgow Preview
Northampton vs OspreysNorthampton vs Ospreys Preview
Sunday , October 26
Clermont Auvergne vs Sale SharksClermont Auvergne vs Sale Sharks Preview
Castres vs LeinsterCastres vs Leinster Preview
Wasps vs HarlequinsWasps vs Harlequins Preview
Benetton Treviso vs Racing Metro 92Benetton Treviso vs Racing Metro 92 Preview
More European Rugby Champions Cup fixtures
European Rugby Challenge Cup
Friday , October 24
La Rochelle vs Bayonne18:30
Brive vs Zebre18:30
Grenoble vs London IrishGrenoble vs London Irish Preview
Newport Gwent D'gons vs Newcastle19:30
Edinburgh vs LOU Rugby19:45
Saturday , October 25
Bucuresti vs Stade Francais14:00
Rovigo vs Cardiff Blues14:00
Exeter vs ConnachtExeter vs Connacht Preview
Oyonnax vs Gloucester19:45
More European Rugby Challenge Cup fixtures
Currie Cup
Saturday , October 25
Western Province vs LionsWestern Province vs Lions Preview
More Currie Cup fixtures
ITM Cup
Saturday , October 25
Taranaki vs TasmanTaranaki vs Tasman Preview
More ITM Cup fixtures
Recent Results
FixtureDetails
All times are local
European Rugby Challenge Cup
Thursday , October 23
London Welsh 20 - 52 Bordeaux-BeglesLondon Welsh vs Bordeaux-Begles Report
More European Rugby Challenge Cup results
European Rugby Champions Cup
Sunday , October 19
Ospreys 42 - 7 Benetton TrevisoOspreys vs Benetton Treviso Report
Toulouse 30 - 23 MontpellierToulouse vs Montpellier Report
Toulon 28 - 18 ScarletsToulon vs Scarlets Report
Leinster 25 - 20 WaspsLeinster vs Wasps Report
More European Rugby Champions Cup results
European Rugby Challenge Cup
London Irish 70 - 14 RovigoLondon Irish vs Rovigo Report
More European Rugby Challenge Cup results
International Match
Saturday , October 18
Australia 28 - 29 New ZealandAustralia vs New Zealand Report
More International Match results
European Rugby Champions Cup
Sale Sharks 26 - 27 MunsterSale Sharks vs Munster Report
Saracens 30 - 23 Clermont AuvergneSaracens vs Clermont Auvergne Report
Racing Metro 92 20 - 11 NorthamptonRacing Metro 92 vs Northampton Report
Glasgow 37 - 10 BathGlasgow vs Bath Report
Leicester 25 - 18 UlsterLeicester vs Ulster Report
More European Rugby Champions Cup results
European Rugby Challenge Cup
LOU Rugby 28 - 18 London WelshLOU Rugby vs London Welsh Report
Zebre 24 - 33 Oyonnax
Cardiff Blues 37 - 14 Grenoble
Stade Francais 22 - 38 Newport Gwent D'gons
Bayonne 30 - 24 Exeter
Connacht 48 - 12 La Rochelle
More European Rugby Challenge Cup results
Currie Cup
Lions 50 - 20 SharksLions vs Sharks Report
Western Province 31 - 23 Blue BullsWestern Province vs Blue Bulls Report
More Currie Cup results
ITM Cup
Taranaki 49 - 30 AucklandTaranaki vs Auckland Report
Manawatu 23 - 18 Southland
Tasman 26 - 6 CanterburyTasman vs Canterbury Report
More ITM Cup results
European Rugby Champions Cup
Friday , October 17
Harlequins 25 - 9 CastresHarlequins vs Castres Report
More European Rugby Champions Cup results
European Rugby Challenge Cup
Bordeaux-Begles 13 - 15 EdinburghBordeaux-Begles vs Edinburgh Report
More European Rugby Challenge Cup results
Aviva Premiership Table
PosTeamPPts
1Northampton625
2Saracens622
3Exeter620
4Bath620
5Wasps615