Kirwan opts for successful formula

Fri, 22 Mar 2013 05:30
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Blues head coach Sir John Kirwan has restored his successful combinations for Sunday's clash with the Waratahs in Sydney.

Blues head coach John Kirwan has restored his successful combinations for Sunday's clash with the Waratahs in Sydney.

After rolling the changes and losing to the Bulls before the bye, Kirwan has reverted to the tried and tested formula that saw the Blues defeat the Hurricanes and Crusaders in the opening two rounds of the Super Rugby competition.

Chris Noakes takes the reigns at flyhalf, while George Moala, Peter Saili, Culum Retallick, James Parsons and Tom McCartney all return to the starting XV.

On the bench, Anthony Boric is poised to make his first appearance in more than a year after surgery on his neck kept him sidelined, while scrumhalf Jamison Gibson-Park maintains his position in the matchday 22 in place of Bryn Hall.

"We've got this idea of making sure we continue to create a full squad. The loss certainly influenced what we do going forward so it's back to the guys that have been proven for us," Kirwan said.

"We've kept Jamo [Jamison Gibson-Park] on the bench because we thought he came on and brought us a different look from scrumhalf but if we were a few weeks down the track and we'd got a few more wins then we'd probably look at trying to involve more guys just because if we don't and some injuries happen down the track we're going to be under the pump."

After three hit-outs for the Blues development team, Kirwan said Boric was both physically and mentally ready to get stuck in against the Waratahs.

"We've picked him because he's stopped mentally processing. He's had those three development games and in the first game he was thinking about his neck and doing things that he might not normally do, but he's progressively got better so he's in the side because he'll go on and won't think about it anymore. We're pleased to have him back."

Kirwan is under no illusions as to how difficult Sunday's showdown with the under-siege Waratahs will be.

"I think they'll play their best game of rugby. They're under the pump, they're desperate, they've got a coach who's saying 'this is a war' and they've got a good enough football team to beat anyone so if we're not ready for that sort of intensity then we're going to lose. I reckon it's a huge test for both teams."

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, 4 Culum Retallick, 3 Charlie Faumuina, 2 James Parsons, 1 Tom McCartney.
Replacements: 16 Quentin MacDonald, 17 Angus Ta'avao, 18 Anthony Boric, 19 Brendon O'Connor, 20 Jamison Gibson-Park, 21 Baden Kerr, 22 Jackson Willison.

Date: Sunday, March 24
Venue: Allianz Stadium, Sydney
Kick-off: 16.05 (05.05 GMT)
Referee: Francisco Pastrana (Argentina)
Assistant referees: Steve Walsh (Australia), Will Houston (Australia)
TMO: Peter Marshall (Australia)

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Pool AU
Team P W D L Pts
Waratahs 16 11 0 5 52
Brumbies 16 9 0 7 47
Rebels 16 7 0 9 36
Reds 16 4 0 12 22
Force 16 3 0 13 19
Pool NZ
Team P W D L Pts
Hurricanes 16 14 0 2 66
Highlanders 16 11 0 5 53
Chiefs 16 10 0 6 48
Crusaders 16 9 0 7 46
Blues 16 3 0 13 20
Pool SA
Team P W D L Pts
Stormers 16 10 1 5 45
Lions 16 9 1 6 42
Bulls 16 7 0 9 38
Sharks 16 7 0 9 34
Cheetahs 16 5 0 11 26