Kirwan 'rests' his Blues again

Thu, 09 May 2013 09:15
Large tim perry blues Large quentin macdonald   brendon Large quentin macdonald blues

Blues head coach John Kirwan has made five changes to his starting XV for Saturday's match against the Melbourne Rebels at Eden Park.

Blues head coach John Kirwan has made five changes to his starting XV for Saturday's match against the Melbourne Rebels at Eden Park.

Tim Perry moves into loosehead prop in place of Tom McCartney, while Quentin MacDonald replaces Keven Mealamu - who has been forced out of action due to a minor calf strain sustained against the Stormers.

Lock Anthony Boric will make his first start in 14 months, while Brendon O'Connor is named at openside flank as Kirwan looks to rest Luke Braid and Culum Retallick who have both shouldered heavy workloads this season.

"Some of our guys have clocked up high Ks and it's important that we give them a little bit of a break," Kirwan said.

"We think Tim is getting better and better, there's lots of competition on that loosehead side so he gets another crack at it.

"Brendon's been coming off the bench and doing a great job. Although we don't want Braidy out of the football game altogether he's another one of the guys who has played just about every minute of every game so we need to be careful moving forward."

In the backs, George Moala is reinstated to the starting XV on the left wing as Rene Ranger returns to his favoured position of outside centre where he is partnered in the midfield with Francis Saili.

Jackson Willison was not considered due to the recurrence of an ankle injury he suffered against the Reds in Brisbane.

With Keven Mealamu and James Parsons both ruled out through injury, Ponsonby and Auckland Academy hooker Gafatasi Su'a has been called up and could make his Super Rugby debut off the pine.

Kirwan said it was a completely different scenario to when he made six changes against the Bulls and his side lost 21-28 at Eden Park, and that it was important to strike a balance between refreshing key players and maintaining his side's enthusiasm.

"I'll take the rap for that but I think we're a lot further down the track as a team and we've had a lot more training under the belt so the changes are more subtle.

"The boys have been in there and are working hard so it's very different. We need to make sure we have a huge game so the guys need to bring fresh legs and fresh enthusiasm and that's got to happen this week."

The Rebels may have only won two games so far this season, but they showed enough glimpses of talent in their close losses to the Crusaders and Chiefs in recent weeks to suggest they will be a real threat on Saturday night.

Kirwan is well aware of the dangers the Rebels pose and knows his side can ill afford a slip up against them.

"The Rebels are a very good side," he said.

"They've got James O'Connor who has been playing very well and Scott Higginbotham is organising the loose forwards well. They've been unlucky; they'll be coming over here confident and they'll be hoping we're underestimating them and that's not happening."

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 Brendon O'Connor, 6 Steven Luatua, 5 Ali Williams (captain), 4 Anthony Boric, 3 Angus Ta'avao, 2 Quentin MacDonald, 1 Tim Perry.
Replacements: 16 Gafatasi Su'a, 17 Ofa Tu'ungafasi, 18 Ronald Raaymakers, 19 Luke Braid, 20 Jamison Gibson-Park, 21 Baden Kerr, 22 Lolagi Visinia.

Date: Saturday, May 11
Venue: Eden Park, Auckland
Kick-off: 19.35 (17.35 AEST; 07.35 GMT)
Referee: Garratt Williamson (New Zealand)
Assistant referees: Jonathon White (New Zealand), Shane McDermott (New Zealand)
TMO: Ben Skeen (New Zealand)

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Fri, 09 October 2015
Western Province v EP Kings 16h00 Newlands
Pumas v Blue Bulls 16h00 Mbombela Stadium
New Zealand v Tonga 19h00 Newcastle
Sat, 10 October 2015
Free State Cheetahs v Sharks 12h00 Bloemfontein
Samoa v Scotland 13h30 Newcastle
Golden Lions v Griquas 14h00 Ellis Park
Australia v Wales 15h45 London
England v Uruguay 19h00 Manchester
Sun, 11 October 2015
Argentina v Namibia 11h00 Leicester
Italy v Romania 13h30 Exeter
France v Ireland 15h45 Cardiff
United States v Japan 19h00 Gloucester
Wed, 07 October 2015
Namibia v Georgia 16 | 17
South Africa v United States 64 | 0
Tue, 06 October 2015
Fiji v Uruguay 47 | 15
Canada v Romania 15 | 17
Sun, 04 October 2015
Ireland v Italy 16 | 9
Argentina v Tonga 45 | 16
Zebre v Scarlets 8 | 20
Sat, 03 October 2015
England v Australia 13 | 33
Connacht v Cardiff Blues 36 | 31
South Africa v Scotland 34 | 16
Samoa v Japan 5 | 26
Leinster v Dragons 37 | 13
Griquas v Sharks 20 | 45
Pumas v Free State Cheetahs 37 | 37
Fri, 02 October 2015
New Zealand v Georgia 43 | 10
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