Sonny Bill starts against Hurricanes

Thu, 13 Apr 2017 06:16
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TEAM ANNOUNCEMENT: The Blues have named a virtually unchanged side for their clash against the current Super Rugby champions, the Hurricanes at Eden Park on Saturday.

They welcome 33-Test All Black Sony Bill Williams as the only change to the starting line-up from last week's match against the Highlanders.

The All Black front row of Pauliasi Manu, skipper James Parsons and Charlie Faumuina are backed by promising young locks Scott Scrafton and Gerard Cowley-Tuioti, who has played in all seven games this year and scored his first Super try against the Highlanders.

Steven Luatua is retained at No.8 after his outstanding 80-minute contribution last week after returning from suspension, and joins fellow All Black star Jerome Kaino and Blake Gibson in the loose forwards.

Williams will make his first start for the Blues at inside centre with Rieko Ioane is outside him, which means that All Black George Moala will come off the bench.

Another All Black to provide impact off the bench is prop Ofa Tu'ungafasi, and if he plays, he will move to within one game of his 50th cap for the Blues.

Blues: 15 Michael Collins, 14 Matt Duffie, 13 Rieko Ioane, 12 Sonny Bill Williams, 11 Melani Nanai, 10 Piers Francis, 9 Augustine Pulu, 8 Steven Luatua, 7 Blake Gibson, 6 Jerome Kaino, 5 Scott Scrafton, 4 Gerard Cowley-Tuioti, 3 Charlie Faumuina, 2 James Parsons, 1 Pauliasi Manu.
Replacements: 16 Matt Moulds, 17 Ofa Tu’ungafasi, 18 Sione Mafileo, 19 Jimmy Tupou, 20 Akira Ioane, 21 Billy Guyton, 22 Bryn Gatland, 23 George Moala.

Date: Saturday, April 15
Venue: Eden Park, Auckland
Kick-off: 18.35 (07.35 GMT)
Referee: Mike Fraser (New Zealand)
Assistant referees: Jamie Nutbrown (New Zealand), Paul Williams (New Zealand)
TMO: Ben Skeen (New Zealand)

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