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Ranger back on the wing

Thu, 11 Apr 2013 08:12
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Blues head coach John Kirwan has made two changes to his starting line-up for Saturday's Super Rugby clash with the Hurricanes at Eden Park.

Blues head coach John Kirwan has made two changes to his starting line-up for Saturday's Super Rugby clash with the Hurricanes at Eden Park.

With George Moala suspended for a week for a dangerous high tackle on Highlanders wing Buxton Popoali'i, Rene Ranger shifts out to cover the left wing as Francis Saili is promoted from the bench to start at centre.

"It was a pretty easy decision to make," Kirwan said of Ranger's positional switch.

"He's done it for the team. We felt the way we finished last week was pretty special and I think it's only going to help his career. He's been our best centre and he will be our centre in the future but we need him to fill that spot for the week while George is away.

"He's settled into the position really well and he gives us some more power across the paddock."

The only other change to the starting XV comes at loosehead prop where Tom McCartney replaces Tim Perry.

"We're expecting Tom to give us a bit of an injection," Kirwan said.

"He was a bit annoyed that he wasn't playing last week so we've got some real competition going between Tim and Tom and we're expecting Tom to stand up and have a big one."

Kirwan said a win against the Hurricanes on Saturday was crucial heading into the bye next week.

"It's must-win every week. I keep hearing that from my children on Mondays saying ‘you've got to win this week dad' and that's just the nature of this competition," he said.

"When you talk about the conference this is a big one. The Hurricanes have improved, I'd like to think we've improved and they're one point ahead of us on the table so she's all on."

Blues: 15 Charles Piutau, 14 Frank Halai, 13 Francis Saili, 12 Jackson Willison, 11 Rene Ranger, 10 Chris Noakes, 9 Piri Weepu, 8 Peter Saili, 7 Luke Braid, 6 Steven Luatua, 5 Ali Williams, 4 Culum Retallick, 3 Angus Ta'avao, 2 James Parsons, 1 Tom McCartney.
Replacements: 16 even Mealamu, 17 Ofa Tu'ungafasi, 18 Anthony Boric, 19 Brendon O'Connor, 20 Jamison Gibson-Park, 21 Baden Kerr, 22 Albert Nikoro.

Date: Saturday, April 13
Venue: Eden Park, Auckland
Kick-off: 19.35 (07.35 GMT)
Referee: Jaco Peyper (South Africa)
Assistant referees: Jonathon White (New Zealand), Kane McBride (New Zealand)
TMO: Vinny Munro (New Zealand)

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