Blues add two All Blacks to XV

Date published: February 26 2015

All Blacks Charlie Faumuina and Patrick Tuipulotu will make their first starts of the season for the Blues against the Cheetahs in Bloemfontein on Saturday.

Faumuina has come off the bench in both games this season while Tuipulotu came on for his season debut in the second-half of last weekend's loss the Stormers.

Tuipulotu will start in place of Hayden Triggs, who received a one match suspension following his red card in Cape Town.

The Blues will start open sideloose forwards Brendon O’Connor and Luke Braid, who were both outstanding last weekend, while Steven Luatua, who was replaced after receiving a shoulder injury, will come off the bench as cover for both loose forward and lock.

There’s been a reshuffle in the backline with Hamish Northcott moving in to inside centre and Charles Piutau going from full-back to 13.

Melani Nanai, part of the wider training group, makes his debut on the right wing while Lolagi Visinia returns to full-back.

Added to the bench is replacement Simon Hickey, coming in for Dan Bowden, who has returned home after re-aggravating his foot injury.

The match will feature the 100th game for the Blues for inspirational captain Jerome Kaino.

Blues: 15 Lolagi Visinia, 14 Melani Nanai, 13 Charles Piutau, 12 Hamish Northcott, 11 Tevita Li, 10 Ihaia West, 9 Jimmy Cowan, 8 Jerome Kaino, 7 Brendon O'Connor, 6 Luke Braid, 5 Patrick Tuipulotu, 4 Josh Bekhuis, 3 Charlie Faumuina, 2 James Parsons, 1 Tony Woodcock.
Replacements: 16 Matt Moulds, 17 Ofa Tu'ungafasi, 18 Angus Ta'avao, 19 Steven Luatua, 20 Akira Ioane, 21 Jamison Gibson-Park, 22 Simon Hickey, 23 Francis Saili.

Date: Friday, February 27
Venue: Free State Stadium, Bloemfontein
Kick-off:  19:10 local (17:10 GMT)
Referee: Rohan Hoffmann (Australia)
Assistant referees: Andrew Lees (Australia), Lourens van der Merwe (South Africa)
TMO: Johan Greeff (South Africa)