Francis starts in Battle of the Bombays

Wed, 24 May 2017 08:24
Large piers francis blues driven off 800

TEAM ANNOUNCEMENT: Blues flyhalf Piers Francis will start against the Chiefs at Eden Park on Friday after not developing any further symptoms to the concussion suffered against the Stormers.

Francis came off as is a mandatory criteria around a loss of consciousness and therefore did not require "head testing" at the time.

Blues doctor Dr Stephen Kara confirmed that Francis had not developed any further symptoms in a range of regular testing under the protocol since including a full neurological exam and neuro-cognitive testing via SCAT scan. 

He further tested clear after a return to training and completed the other graduated protocol steps to play with no recurrence of any symptoms.

All Black Patrick Tuipulotu returns to the starting line-up, while Michael Collins also returns at fullback after both came off the bench for the match against the Stormers. All Black prop Charlie Faumuina will make his 98th appearance for the Blues and is in superlative form this season, setting up two tries in the same game.

Two others will near milestones with wing Matt Duffie and prop Sione Mafileo playing their 19th games for the Blues, one cap away from their blazer games.

There is interest in the potential debut of former New Zealand Under-20 player Stephen Perofeta, who is listed on the bench. He has been sidelined with an ankle injury for most of the season but returned to club rugby last weekend.

Players not available because of injury include: Jerome Kaino (knee), Pauliasi Manu (calf), Matt Moulds (knee), Ihaia West (ankle) and Jimmy Tupou (hamstring). 

Blues: 15 Michael Collins, 14 Matt Duffie, 13. George Moala, 12 Sonny Bill Williams, 11 Rieko Ioane, 10 Piers Francis, 9 Augustine Pulu, 8 Akira Ioane, 7 Blake Gibson, 6 Steven Luatua, 5 Scott Scrafton, 4 Patrick Tuipulotu, 3 Charlie Faumuina, 2 James Parsons (captain), 1 Ofa Tu'ungafasi.
Replacements: 16 Hame Faiva, 17 Alex Hodgman, 18 Sione Mafileo, 19 Gerard Cowley-Tuioti, 20 Kara Pryor, 21 Sam Nock, 22 Stephen Perofeta, 23 TJ Faiane.

Date: Friday, May 26
Venue: Eden Park, Auckland
Kick-off: 19.35 (07.35 GMT)
Referee: Angus Gardner (Australia)
Assistant referees: Nick Briant (New Zealand), Angus Mabey (New Zealand)
TMO: Glenn Newman (New Zealand)

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