Blues to unleash All Black on Sharks

Wed, 19 Jun 2013 08:33
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Blues coach John Kirwan has named all his All Blacks in the 26-man squad to travel to South Africa on Friday.

Blues coach John Kirwan has named all his All Blacks in the 26-man squad to travel to South Africa on Friday.

The Blues depart for the Republic on Friday, playing the Sharks in Durban next Saturday, June 29, before heading to Bloemfontein to face the Cheetahs on July 6.

Current All Blacks squad members Charles Piutau, Francis Saili, Steven Luatua, Piri Weepu, Keven Mealamu and Rene Ranger will only join the team early next week - following the third Test against France in New Plymouth on Saturday - but are expected to be unleashed on the Sharks.

The squad features 10 players who have not toured South Africa before - including wider training group player Lolagi Visinia, who played on the wing for the New Zealand Under-20 team in their loss to England in the IRB World Junior Championship semifinal in France on Tuesday.

Visinia will fly from France, following the third-lace play-off match against South Africa U20 on Sunday, to join the team.

Kirwan said he was pleased with the make-up of his squad.

"I think the biggest factor for us was waiting on the guys' game time from the All Blacks and making sure they're OK to travel," he said.

"We've gone for two scrumhalves and three hookers, so we've taken a bit of a risk there," the Blues coach said.

"We're going to bring Lolagi Visinia over from the NZ U20s because he covers two or three positions so that made it a little bit hard on someone like Marty McKenzie, but when you're touring it's just a matter of making sure you get the mix right."

Kirwan said it was crucial to kick-start the tour with a victory over the Sharks to stay in touch with the top six.

"The second week really means nothing yet. The Sharks game is a must-win for us, it's like our final and that's because if we win that then we stay completely in touch with the top six.

"The Cheetahs will then become a different kettle of fish so we just need to get back on the horse and play a good game of footy."

Blues squad: Tim Perry, Sam Prattley, Angus Ta'avao, Ofa Tu'ungafasi, Quentin MacDonald, Keven Mealamu, James Parsons, Anthony Boric, Culum Retallick, Ali Williams, Luke Braid, Steven Luatua, Peter Saili, Brendon O'Connor, Kane Barrett, Jamison Gibson-Park, Piri Weepu, , Baden Kerr, Chris Noakes, Francis Saili, Jackson Willison, Rene Ranger, , George Moala, Frank Halai, Charles Piutau, Lolagi Visinia.

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