Blues welcome back injured stars

Wed, 31 May 2017 10:51

TEAM ANNOUNCEMENT: The Blues welcome back the experienced pair of Rene Ranger and Jimmy Tupou for their historic clash against the Reds in Apia on Friday.

It will be the first Super Rugby match in Samoa and the first major game under lights at Apia Park.

Ranger, the six-Test All Black, missed last year with an ACL injury with his return this season cut short with a serious ankle injury.

Tupou, who played 37 times for the Crusaders before returning home last year, was a key part of the side both on and off the field before a hamstring injury sidelined him for half of the season.

Both return after strong showings in club rugby.

Excellent form against the Chiefs last week has rewarded North Harbour's Sione Mafileo and a returning Alex Hodgman with starts in the front row alongside captain James Parsons, with Tupou joining All Black Steven Luatua and Kara Pryor in an exciting and mobile loose forward combination.

Youthful Northland pivot Sam Nock makes his first start at scrumhalf to spark a backline where in-form Rieko Ioane, with nine tries this year, forms a dangerous back three with exciting runners Melani Nanai and Declan O'Donnell.

Several players have niggling injuries after a demanding month which has forced Umaga to sit out Augustine Pulu, Blake Gibson, Matt Duffie and George Moala. Additionally Sonny Bill Williams has not recovered sufficiently from the knee injury that forced him off against the Chiefs, and Charlie Faumuina has tonsillitis.

However there is star quality on the bench led by All Black Ofa Tu'ungafasi, the impressive Akira Ioane and the exciting flyhalf Stephen Perofeta.

Blues: 15 Melani Nanai,14 Declan O'Donnell, 13 Rene Ranger, 12 Tinoai Faiane, 11 Rieko Ioane, 10 Piers Francis, 9 Sam Nock, 8 Steven Luatua, 7 Kara Pryor, 6 Jimmy Tupou, 5 Gerard Cowley-Tuioti, 4 Patrick Tuipulotu, 3 Sione Mafileo, 2 James Parsons (captain),
1 Alex Hodgman.
Replacements: 16 Hame Faiva, 17 Sam Prattley, 18 Ofa Tu'ungafasi, 19 Akira Ioane, 20 Murphy Taramai, 21 Billy Guyton, 22 Stephen Perofeta, 23 Jordan Trainor.

Date: Friday, June 2
Venue: Apia Park, Apia
Kick-off: 20.35 (19.35 NZ time; 17.35 AEST; 07.35 GMT)
Referee: Ben O'Keeffe (New Zealand)
Assistant referees: Will Houston (New Zealand), Angus Mabey (New Zealand)
TMO: Shane McDermott (New Zealand)

There are currently no matches being played
FIXTURE GMT VENUE
Fri, 22 September 2017
Free State Cheetahs v Pumas 15h30 Bloemfontein
Cheetahs v Leinster 18h00 Bloemfontein
Glasgow Warriors v Munster 18h35 Scotstoun Stadium
Ulster v Dragons 18h35 Kingspan Stadium
Gloucester v Worcester Warriors 18h45 Kingsholm
Treviso v Ospreys 19h35 Stadio Monigo
Sat, 23 September 2017
Sharks v Blue Bulls 13h00 Durban
Bath v Newcastle Falcons 14h00 Recreation Ground
Harlequins v Leicester Tigers 14h00 Twickenham Stoop
Saracens v Sale Sharks 14h00 Allianz Park
Connacht v Cardiff Blues 14h15 Sportsground
Western Province v Griquas 15h15 Newlands
Kings v Zebre 17h35 Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium
Scarlets v Edinburgh 18h35 Parc y Scarlets
Sun, 24 September 2017
London Irish v Northampton Saints 13h00 Madejski Stadium
Exeter Chiefs v Wasps 14h00 Sandy Park
SUPER RUGBY
MORE LOGS
Pool AU
Team P W D L Pts
Brumbies 15 6 0 9 34
Force 15 6 0 9 26
Reds 15 4 0 11 21
Waratahs 15 4 0 11 19
Rebels 15 1 1 13 9
Pool NZ
Team P W D L Pts
Crusaders 15 14 0 1 63
Hurricanes 15 12 0 3 58
Chiefs 15 12 1 2 57
Highlanders 15 11 0 4 51
Blues 15 7 1 7 37
Pool SA1
Team P W D L Pts
Stormers 15 10 0 5 43
Cheetahs 15 4 0 11 21
Bulls 15 4 0 11 20
Sunwolves 15 2 0 13 12
Pool SA2
Team P W D L Pts
Lions 15 14 0 1 65
Sharks 15 9 1 5 42
Jaguares 15 7 0 8 33
Kings 15 6 0 9 28