Kirwan shakes up the Blues

Thu, 30 May 2013 08:28
Large ali williams disappointed Large kirwan looks630 Large anthony boric630

Blues coach John Kirwan has made five changes to his starting XV for Saturday's clash with the Highlanders in Dunedin.

Blues coach John Kirwan has made five changes to his starting XV for Saturday's clash with the Highlanders in Dunedin, as he continues to shake up his under-performing team.

With Keven Mealamu away with the All Blacks earlier this week, James Parsons has been given the nod at hooker.

Lock Anthony Boric makes just his second start of the season in place of Culum Retallick.

"Our whole line-out was here with Ali being back and Anthony starting, so we've just got a little bit selfish really and said JP can throw all week and Kevvie can come off the bench," Kirwan explained.

"It gives us a little bit more organisation and confidence in what is a critical game," the coach added.

"AB is ready to go, he's had his challenges, he's an All Black lock and Red [Culum Retallick] is on the bench so it's a great opportunity for AB to step up and show us what he's got."

Impressive young All Black prospect Steven Luatua has overcome a neck injury to start at blindside flank, while scans on Luke Braid's groin have come back clear so he will start on the openside.

In the backs, Baden Kerr makes his second start of the season in place of Chris Noakes who is dealing with some family issues, while Waisake Naholo also gets a rare start on the left wing ahead of George Moala.

"It's time to give Waisake a crack at it. He's deserved it, he's worked hard and we know what George can do so it's a little bit of a change up," Kirwan said.

Kirwan said he was looking forward to playing on a dry track under the Forsyth Barr Stadium roof on Saturday, in what shapes as a crucial game for the Blues' play-off prospects.

"For us it's a case of if you don't understand the importance of this week then you're playing the wrong game and our boys do. We're excited about the challenge," said Kirwan, who earlier in the week also gave his team the hairdryer treatment.

"We know the Highlanders have just been missing so they can make their season by beating us. We can't let that happen, we've got to put our season back on track and get back up the points table and stay in touch. If we do that this weekend then we're back in contention for the top six so there's a lot riding on it."

The Gordon Hunter Memorial Trophy is also on the line on Saturday, honouring one of the characters of Otago who was also in the unique position of having coached both the Blues and Highlanders.

Blues: 15 Charles Piutau, 14 Frank Halai, 13 Rene Ranger, 12 Francis Saili, 11 Waisake Naholo, 10 Baden Kerr, 9 Piri Weepu, 8 Peter Saili, 7 Luke Braid, 6 Steven Luatua, 5 Ali Williams (captain), 4 Anthony Boric, 3 Angus Ta'avao, 2 James Parsons, 1 Tim Perry.
Replacements: 16 Keven Mealamu, 17 Sam Prattley, 18 Culum Retallick, 19 Brendon O'Connor, 20 Jamison Gibson-Park, 21 Marty McKenzie, 22 Jackson Willison.

Date: Saturday, June 1
Venue: Forsyth Barr Stadium, Dunedin
Kick-off: 19.35 (07.35 GMT)
Referee: Jonathon White (New Zealand)
Assistant referees: Richard Kelly (New Zealand), Kane McBride (New Zealand)
TMO: Keith Brown (New Zealand)

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FIXTURE GMT VENUE
Fri, 28 April 2017
Highlanders v Stormers 07h35 Dunedin
Cardiff Blues v Zebre 18h05 Cardiff
Edinburgh v Dragons 18h35 Myreside
Leinster v Glasgow Warriors 18h35 RDS Arena
Newcastle Falcons v Worcester Warriors 19h00 Kingston Park
Sat, 29 April 2017
Chiefs v Sunwolves 07h35 Hamilton
Reds v Waratahs 09h45 Suncorp Stadium
Force v Lions 11h55 Perth
Ospreys v Ulster 14h00 Liberty Stadium
Bath v Gloucester 14h00 Recreation Ground
Exeter Chiefs v Northampton Saints 14h00 Sandy Park
Saracens v Bristol 14h00 Allianz Park
Harlequins v Wasps 14h00 Twickenham Stoop
Leicester Tigers v Sale Sharks 14h00 Welford Road
Cheetahs v Crusaders 15h15 Bloemfontein
Treviso v Munster 17h05 Stadio Monigo
Kings v Rebels 17h30 Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium
Connacht v Scarlets 18h35 Sportsground
Jaguares v Sharks 19h40 Buenos Aires
Sun, 30 April 2017
Brumbies v Blues 06h05 Canberra
RESULT SCORE
Sun, 23 April 2017
Clermont Auvergne v Leinster 27 | 22
Sat, 22 April 2017
Sharks v Rebels 9 | 9
Bulls v Cheetahs 20 | 14
Munster v Saracens 10 | 26
Force v Chiefs 7 | 16
Crusaders v Stormers 57 | 24
Highlanders v Sunwolves 40 | 15
Fri, 21 April 2017
Lions v Jaguares 24 | 21
Waratahs v Kings 24 | 26
Hurricanes v Brumbies 56 | 21
Mon, 17 April 2017
UP-Tuks v Maties 28 | 21
Sun, 16 April 2017
Bristol v Wasps 21 | 36
Northampton Saints v Saracens 25 | 27
Sat, 15 April 2017
Connacht v Leinster 24 | 37
Treviso v Edinburgh 21 | 6
SUPER RUGBY
MORE LOGS
Pool AU
Team P W D L Pts
Brumbies 8 3 0 5 17
Reds 8 2 0 6 10
Force 7 2 0 5 9
Waratahs 8 2 0 6 9
Rebels 7 1 1 5 7
Pool NZ
Team P W D L Pts
Crusaders 8 8 0 0 36
Hurricanes 8 7 0 1 33
Chiefs 8 7 0 1 33
Highlanders 8 5 0 3 23
Blues 8 3 0 5 17
Pool SA1
Team P W D L Pts
Stormers 8 6 0 2 26
Bulls 8 3 0 5 14
Cheetahs 8 2 0 6 10
Sunwolves 8 1 0 7 5
Pool SA2
Team P W D L Pts
Lions 8 7 0 1 32
Sharks 8 5 1 2 24
Jaguares 8 4 0 4 20
Kings 8 2 0 6 10