Mealamu to start against Stormers

Wed, 01 May 2013 08:21
Large graham henry   keven mealam Large francis saili blues Large keven mealamu line out

Talismanic hooker Keven Mealamu will make his first start of the season when the Blues face the Stormers at North Harbour Stadium on Friday.

Talismanic hooker Keven Mealamu will make his first start of the season when the Blues face the Stormers at North Harbour Stadium on Friday.

The 102-Test veteran has come off the bench in the last three weeks, following an extended break, but will get his first opportunity to pull on the No.2 jersey in place of the injured James Parsons.

The 26-year-old Parsons took a blow to the neck last week against the Reds, but his injury is not as serious as first thought and he is expected to be out for just two weeks.

"It was all part of the plan," coach John Kirwan said, adding: "Kevvie's had his long break and we've brought him back into it.

"JP has done everything we've asked of him and he's been playing exceptionally well.

"Having his small injury means Kevvie's going to step up, he probably would have stepped up anyway and we're looking for him to get back to the great form and the great player that he is."

In the only other change to the starting XV, Francis Saili is elevated from the bench to slot in at centre as Rene Ranger shifts out to the wing.

"I think this is the best side to play the Stormers," Kirwan said.

"I spoke to Rene this [Wednesday] morning and bringing Ces [Francis] on at centre is our best attacking side for this game and that's our motivation. There's some good firepower out wide."

Scans on Anthony Boric's neck Tuesday came back clear so he returns to the bench, while Lolagi Visinia, who was named in the New Zealand Under-20 squad last week, is poised to earn his first Super Rugby cap as outside back cover.

"He's one of the young crew," Kirwan said of 20-year-old Visinia.

"We thought Albert [Nikoro] did great last week and hasn't done anything wrong, we're just picking a side this week we think will be good for the Stormers and we need to start giving these young guys some game time."

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 (captain), 4 Culum Retallick, 3 Angus Ta'avao, 2 Keven Mealamu, 1 Tom McCartney.
Replacements: 16 Quentin MacDonald, 17 Ofa Tu'ungafasi, 18 Anthony Boric, 19 Brendon O'Connor, 20 Jamison Gibson-Park, 21 Baden Kerr, 22 Lolagi Visinia.

Date: Friday, May 3
Venue: North Harbour Stadium, Albany
Kick-off: 19.35 (09.35 SA time; 07.35 GMT)
Referee: Glen Jackson (New Zealand)
Assistant referees: Chris Pollock (New Zealand), Sheldon Eden-Whaitiri (New Zealand)
TMO: Vinny Munro (New Zealand)

There are currently no matches being played
FIXTURE GMT VENUE
Sun, 04 December 2016
Worcester Warriors v Wasps 15h00 Sixways
Newcastle Falcons v Harlequins 15h00 Kingston Park
Fri, 09 December 2016
Northampton Saints v Leinster 19h45 Franklin's Gardens
Sat, 10 December 2016
Ulster v Clermont Auvergne 13h00 Kingspan Stadium
Munster v Leicester Tigers 15h15 Thomond Park
Racing Metro v Glasgow Warriors 16h15 Stade Yves-du-Manoir
Saracens v Sale Sharks 17h30 Allianz Park
Zebre v Toulouse 20h45 Stadio Sergio Lanfranchi
SUPER RUGBY
MORE LOGS
Pool AU
Team P W D L Pts
Brumbies 15 10 0 5 43
Waratahs 15 8 0 7 40
Rebels 15 7 0 8 31
Reds 15 3 1 11 17
Force 15 2 0 13 13
Pool NZ
Team P W D L Pts
Hurricanes 15 11 0 4 53
Highlanders 15 11 0 4 52
Chiefs 15 11 0 4 51
Crusaders 15 11 0 4 50
Blues 15 8 1 6 39
Pool SA1
Team P W D L Pts
Stormers 15 10 1 4 51
Bulls 15 9 1 5 42
Cheetahs 15 4 0 11 21
Sunwolves 15 1 1 13 9
Pool SA2
Team P W D L Pts
Lions 14 11 0 3 52
Sharks 15 9 1 5 43
Jaguares 14 3 0 11 18
Kings 15 2 0 13 9