Blues name monster midfield to face Lions

Thu, 08 Mar 2018 19:10
Large blues team to face lions 800

TEAM ANNOUNCEMENT: The Blues have welcomed back a number of All Blacks for their Super Rugby Round Four encounter with the Lions.

Jerome Kaino and Sonny Bill Williams are both back, but the most significant selection is their monster midfield that will go up against the high-flying Lions.

Williams - who returns following a leg injury that sidelined him for a week - will line-up in the midfield with Rieko Ioane who moves in from the wing, allowing the attacking flair of Melani Nanai to remain on the wing.

He currently makes the most metres per carry of any Super player.

Kaino has his first start of the season, after coming on as a reserve last week.

Sam Nock replaces injured skipper Augustine Pulu, pairing up with the in-form Bryn Gatland, while Stephen Perofeta, who played in the development match last weekend after injuring his hand in pre-season, comes on to the bench.

James Parsons takes over as captain for his 80th Super Rugby game for the Blues in the front row with, Alex Hodgman and Ofa Tu'ungafasi, while the former New Zealand Schools and All Blacks Sevens player Antonio Kiri Kiri gets a start at loose forward.

New Zealand Maori representatives Jonathan Ruru and the experienced Taniwha front row forward Ross Wright are included on the bench, where coach Tana Umaga has gone for a six forwards-two backs split.

Players not considered because of injury include Otere Black (knee), Blake Gibson (shoulder), Glenn Preston (calf), Matt Moulds (knee), Dalton Papalii (hand), Augustine Pulu (foot) and Kara Pryor (leg).

Blues: 15 Michael Collins, 14 Matt Duffie, 13 Rieko Ioane, 12 Sonny Bill Williams, 11 Melani Nanai, 10 Bryn Gatland, 9 Sam Nock, 8 Akira Ioane, 7 Antonio Kiri Kiri, 6 Jerome Kaino, 5 Gerard Cowley-Tuioti, 4 Patrick Tuipulotu, 3 Ofa Tu'ungafasi, 2 James Parsons (captain), 1 Alex Hodgman.
Replacements: 16 Ross Wright, 17 Pauliasi Manu, 18 Michael Tamoaieta, 19 Scott Scrafton, 20 Jimmy Tupou, 21 Murphy Taramai, 22 Jonathan Ruru, 23 Stephen Perofeta.

Date: Saturday, March 10
Venue: Ellis Park, Johannesburg
Kick-off: 17.15 (15.15 GMT; 04.15 NZ Time Sunday, March 11)
Referee: Nicholas Berry (Australia)
Assistant referees: AJ Jacobs (South Africa), Jaco Pretorius (South Africa)
TMO: Willie Vos (South Africa)

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Fri, 23 March 2018
Crusaders v Bulls 06h35 Christchurch
Rebels v Sharks 08h45 Melbourne
Connacht v Edinburgh 19h35 Sportsground
Dragons v Cheetahs 19h35 Rodney Parade
Glasgow Warriors v Zebre 19h35 Scotstoun
Bath v Exeter Chiefs 19h45 Recreation Ground
Sat, 24 March 2018
Sunwolves v Chiefs 04h15 Tokyo
Hurricanes v Highlanders 06h35 Wellington
Kings v Treviso 13h00 Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium
London Irish v Gloucester 15h00 Madejski Stadium
Saracens v Harlequins 15h00 London
Sale Sharks v Worcester Warriors 15h00 AJ Bell Stadium
Stormers v Reds 15h15 Newlands
Cardiff Blues v Ulster 15h15 Cardiff Arms Park
Munster v Scarlets 17h30 Thomond Park
Newcastle Falcons v Northampton Saints 17h30 Kingston Park
Ospreys v Leinster 19h35 Liberty Stadium
Jaguares v Lions 19h40 Estadio Jose Amalfitani
Sun, 25 March 2018
Leicester Tigers v Wasps 15h00 Welford Road
Pool AU
Team P W D L Pts
Rebels 4 3 0 1 15
Waratahs 4 2 1 1 10
Reds 3 2 0 1 8
Brumbies 4 2 0 2 8
Sunwolves 4 0 0 4 2
Pool NZ
Team P W D L Pts
Highlanders 3 3 0 0 13
Hurricanes 3 2 0 1 10
Crusaders 4 2 0 2 10
Chiefs 3 2 0 1 8
Blues 4 1 0 3 6
Pool SA
Team P W D L Pts
Lions 5 4 0 1 19
Stormers 5 2 0 3 9
Sharks 4 1 1 4 9
Bulls 4 1 0 3 5
Jaguares 4 1 0 3 4