Mealamu to lead Blues in final match

Date published: June 10 2015

All Blacks hooker Keven Mealamu will captain the Blues in his 175th and final Super Rugby match, Friday's clash with the Highlanders in Auckland.

Mealamu returns to the run-on side while back-up hooker James Parsons will win his 50th cap for the Blues when he makes an appearance off the replacements bench.

In all there are six changes to the starting line-up that lost to the Crusaders last weekend.

Mealamu replaces Parsons in the number two jersey and Angus Ta'avao takes over from Ofa Tu’ungafasi at tighthead prop in another change to the front row.

Hayden Triggs is preferred to Will Lloyd at lock while Chris Vui comes in on the blindside flank for Joe Edwards who shifts to number eight where he takes over from Airi Hunt.

Amongst the backs, Charles Piutau is back at full-back ahead of Matt Vaega while at scrum-half Jamison Gibson-Park relegates Jimmy Cowan to the bench.

Mealamu is determined to finish off his Blues career on a high.

"I've been blessed to have been able to play in Super Rugby for 15 years, and this is certainly not the end of my rugby quite yet. I will make a final decision on that at the end of the year," he said.

"In some ways it will be emotional to share my final Super Rugby game on Friday with my team-mates, my friends and especially my family.

"This has been a tough season for the Blues but we can go out on a good note knowing we have performed to our best.

"We have some players leaving as well and we have James who is reaching an important milestone, so we owe it to them and to ourselves to be the best we can be both individually and collectively on Friday."

Blues: 15 Charles Piutau, 14 Ben Lam, 13 Hamish Northcott, 12 George Moala, 11 Melani Nanai, 10 Ihaia West, 9 Jamison Gibson-Park, 8 Joe Edwards, 7 Brendon O'Connor, 6 Chris Vui, 5 Josh Bekhuis, 4 Hayden Triggs, 3 Angus Ta'avao, 2 Keven Mealamu (c), 1 Sam Prattley.
Replacements: 16 James Parsons, 17 Nic Mayhew, 18 Sione Mafileo, 19 Will Lloyd, 20 Jack Ram, 21 Jimmy Cowan, 22 Matt McGahan, 23 Lolagi Visinia.

Date: Friday, June 12
Venue: Eden Park, Auckland
Kick-off:  19:35 local (07:35 GMT; 17:35 AEST, 09:35 SAST)
Referee: Angus Gardner
Assistant referees: Shane McDermott, Angus Mabey
TMO: Ben Skeen