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Kirwan keeps the faith

27th February 2013 06:05

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No changes: The Blues

Blues head coach Sir John Kirwan has named an unchanged line-up for Friday's clash with the Crusaders at Eden Park.

Kirwan has rewarded his troops for an impressive first-up performance against the Hurricanes by keeping the same starting XV and bench, and said it was a pretty simple decision.

"After the performance last week the guys can go around again so it was pretty easy," Kirwan said.

Kirwan, who played many matches for Auckland against Canterbury during his playing career, said games didn't come much bigger than Blues v Crusaders clashes.

"As games go, this is just under a Test match. Blues versus Crusaders is the game of the season so you've got to be ready for it because it should be. For us it's like a local derby."

While the Blues may have surprised many pundits by overcoming the Hurricanes last week, Kirwan knows they are going to have to step things up another gear at Eden Park on Friday night if they are to trouble the Red-and-Blacks.

"They're the favourites; they're talking about winning the Championship. I've been reading some articles and listening to the media and they're installed as favourites, as they should be.

"They're a great football side and we've really got to be on our game."

The Blues will wear a unique one-off jersey on Friday to help raise funds for Men's Health Trust New Zealand.

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 Luke Braid, 6 Steven Luatua, 5 Ali Williams (c), 4 Culum Retallick, 3 Charlie Faumuina, 2 James Parsons, 1 Tom McCartney.
Replacements: 16 Quentin MacDonald, 17 Angus Ta'avao, 18 Liaki Moli, 19 Brendon O'Connor, 20 Bryn Hall, 21 Baden Kerr, 22 Jackson Willison.

Date: Friday, March 1
Venue: Eden Park
Kick-off: 19.30 (06:30 GMT)
Referee: Chris Pollock (New Zealand)
Assistant referees: Jonathon White (New Zealand), Sheldon Eden-Whaitiri (New Zealand)
Television match official: Ben Skeen (New Zealand)

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