Ranger in for changed Blues

Thu, 04 Jul 2013 12:30
Rene-ranger-face Piri-weepu-_-rene-ranger-bl Rene-ranger-blues

The inclusion of in-form All Black Rene Ranger is one of four changes to the Blues' starting XV to face the Cheetahs in Bloemfontein on Saturday - a clash vital to both sides' Super Rugby play-off hopes.

Ranger is named on the left wing in place of George Moala, who drops to the bench.

Blues head coach John Kirwan was forced to replace All Black scrumhalf Piri Weepu and flyhalf Chris Noakes - both back in New Zealand nursing injuries.

Jamison Gibson-Park and Baden Kerr step into the playmaking roles at No.9 and No.10 respectively.

In the final change to the starting XV Sam Prattley starts ahead of Tim Perry at loosehead prop.

Utility back Marty McKenzie and scrumhalf Wayne Ngaluafe flew over from New Zealand earlier this week and will provide cover on the bench.

The bench also features the return of All Black hooker Keven Mealamu, who sat out the encounter against the Sharks because of calf tightness.

The Blues go into the match in Bloemfontein eighth on the ladder, two points behind the Cheetahs, who occupy the sixth and last play-off berth.

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

Date: Saturday, July 6
Venue: Free State Stadium, Bloemfontein
Kick-off:  14.50 (12.50 GMT; 12.50, Sunday, July 7 NZ time)
Referee: Jaco Peyper (South Africa)
Assistant referees: Ben Crouse (South Africa), Francois de Bruin (South Africa)
TMO: Gerrie Coetzee (South Africa)