Nanai back to face Crusaders

Thu, 17 May 2018 08:01
Large melani nanai lions v blues 2018 800

TEAM ANNOUNCEMENT: The Blues has a more settled and experienced look to its team to take on the Crusaders in the Super Rugby clash at Eden Park on Saturday.

 

Pauliasi Manu is reunited in the front row with James Parsons and Ofa Tuungafasi, with the trio sporting 213 Super Rugby caps between them.

The change comes in the second row with Counties Manukau replacement lock Matiaha Martin selected for his debut, coming in for injured All Black Patrick Tuipulotu, to join Gerard Cowley-Tuioti. Fellow locks Scott Scrafton and Jimmy Tupou are out with season-ending injuries. 

There is a potent loose forward trio with Akira Ioane, Dalton Papalii (bracketed with Murphy Taramai) and Jerome Kaino, who plays his 135th game for the Blues, closing in on the 137 caps achieved by Tony Woodcock, who sits second on the all-time list behind Keven Mealamu.

Melani Nanai, who missed five games with injury, comes back into the starting line-up on the right wing allowing Rieko Ioane to play on his preferred left wing, with the in-form Orbyn Leger again pairing with Sonny Bill Williams in midfield. Captain Augustine Pulu starts at scrumhalf again inside Stephen Perofeta.

Michael Collins returns after missing four games through injury, listed on the bench that includes Northland captain Matt Moulds, who will earn his 20th and blazer game should he get on.

Coach Tana Umaga said he was pleased to welcome some of his experienced players back into the team, noting that Caleb Clarke has not been selected after receiving a slight knock in last week’s game.

He leaves the team on Sunday to join the New Zealand Under-20 squad before they fly out next week for the Rugby World Championship in France.

Umaga said that Martin had impressed since coming in as a replacement and earned his start.

Blues: 15 Matt Duffie, 14 Melani Nanai, 13 Orbyn Leger, 12 Sonny Bill Williams, 11 Rieko Ioane, 10 Stephen Perofeta, 9 Augustine Pulu (captain), 8 Akira Ioane, 7 Dalton Papalii/Murphy Taramai, 6 Jerome Kaino, 5 Matiaha Martin, 4 Gerard Cowley-Tuioti, 3 Ofa Tuungafasi, 2 James Parsons, 1 Pauliasi Manu.
Replacements: 16 Matt Moulds, 17 Ross Wright, 18 Sione Mafileo, 19 Ben Nee-Nee, 20 Murphy Taramai/Antonio Kiri Kiri, 21 Jonathan Ruru, 22 Dan Kirkpatrick, 23 Michael Collins

Date: Saturday, May 19
Venue: Eden Park, Auckland
Kick-off: 19.35 (07.35 GMT)
Referee: Glen Jackson (New Zealand)
Assistant referees: Cam Stone (New Zealand), Angus Mabey (New Zealand)
TMO: Shane McDermott (New Zealand)

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Fri, 25 May 2018
Rebels v Sunwolves 09h45 Melbourne
Jaguares v Sharks 19h40 Estadio Jose Amalfitani
Sat, 26 May 2018
Chiefs v Waratahs 07h35 Hamilton
Reds v Highlanders 09h45 Suncorp Stadium
Bulls v Brumbies 13h05 Loftus Versfeld
Exeter Chiefs v Saracens 14h00 London
Stormers v Lions 15h15 Newlands
Leinster v Scarlets 17h00 Dublin
Fri, 01 June 2018
Highlanders v Hurricanes 07h35 Dunedin
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Team P W D L Pts
Waratahs 11 6 1 4 31
Rebels 11 5 0 6 25
Reds 11 4 0 7 18
Brumbies 11 3 0 8 16
Sunwolves 11 0 9 10
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Team P W D L Pts
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Hurricanes 12 10 0 2 45
Highlanders 11 7 0 4 32
Chiefs 11 7 0 4 32
Blues 12 3 0 9 17
Pool SA
Team P W D L Pts
Lions 13 7 0 6 36
Jaguares 12 7 0 5 29
Sharks 12 5 1 6 28
Bulls 12 5 0 7 24
Stormers 13 5 0 8 23