Luatua loss for Blues
Thu, 11 Jul 2013 07:49
It's about pride for us
Blues head coach John Kirwan made four changes to his starting XV for Saturday's final match of the season against the Chiefs at Eden Park.
All Black flank Steven Luatua has been ruled out of action with a shoulder injury and will be replaced by Kane Barrett.
The 104 Test veteran Keven Mealamu will start at hooker in place of James Parsons, while his All Black teammate Piri Weepu has overcome a rib injury to replace Jamison Gibson-Park at scrumhalf.
Rene Ranger shifts from the wing to his preferred position of outside centre, giving New Zealand Under-20 star Lolagi Visinia the opportunity to make his Blues debut on the left wing.
Peter Saili is sick and has been bracketed at No.8 with Brendon O'Connor.
This will be Blues captain and centurion Ali Williams' last game for the franchise along with Rene Ranger and Anthony Boric who are all heading overseas at the end of the season.
Kirwan said the Blues were out to finish the season on a high and salvage some pride with one final effort against New Zealand front runners the Chiefs.
"It's about pride for us," Kirwan said.
"We've had a season that we expected and I think if we can finish with a great performance then it's been a real step in the right direction to put this franchise back on track.
"We all would have loved to have make the playoffs or been in contention this week; that hasn't happened but we've played some great football and we're heading in the right direction so we need to go out there and play for pride and show people that we are a force to be reckoned with going forward."
Blues: 15 Charles Piutau, 14 Frank Halai, 13 Rene Ranger, 12 Francis Saili, 11 Lolagi Visinia, 10 Baden Kerr, 9 Piri Weepu, 8 Peter Saili/Brendon O'Connor, 7 Luke Braid, 6 Kane Barrett, 5 Ali Williams, 4 Anthony Boric, 3 Angus Ta'avao, 2 Keven Mealamu, 1 Sam Prattley.
Replacements: 16 James Parsons, 17 Ofa Tu'ungafasi, 18 Liaki Moli, 19 Brendon O'Connor/Sean Polwart, 20 Jamison Gibson-Park, 21 Jackson Willison, 22 Marty McKenzie.
Date: Saturday, July 13
Venue: Eden Park, Auckland
Kick-off: 19.35 (07.35 GMT)
Referee: Chris Pollock (New Zealand)
Assistant referees: Jonathon White (New Zealand), Garrett Williamson (New Zealand)
TMO: Glenn Newman (New Zealand)
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