Blues axe another misbehaving player
Blues axe another misbehaving playerSHARE
George Moala has become the second player this week to be axed by the Blues because of his off-field behaviour.
Blues head coach John Kirwan confirmed on Wednesday that Moala was not considered for selection due to breaking "internal team protocols".
This followed Monday's revelation that Blues midfielder Francis Saili was dropped over a driving offence.
"He didn't share some of the things that he needed to share with us," Kirwan said about the decision to also leave Moala out for their crucial Round 11 Super Rugby encounter with the Reds in Brisbane on Friday.
"A big part of our team culture is honesty so he won't be travelling with us.
"We've got protocols – they know the rules and we're just enforcing them," Kirwan added.
Apart from axing his misbehaving players Kirwan made just one change to the starting XV for Friday.
Rene Ranger returns to his regular position at outside centre, as Francis Saili is relegated to the bench.
Albert Nikoro will make his first start for the Blues on the wing.
"Albert [Nikoro] has been training all week and he's excited about the opportunity so it's a great moment for him," Kirwan said.
"He's come off the bench for us, he's one of our good, young guys and it's important that we show we've got a squad that can step up."
Counties Manukau lock Ronald Raaymakers has been named on the bench in place of Anthony Boric who is suffering from a neck injury.
Kirwan labelled the Reds the best team in the Super Rugby competition and said it was due to their multi-faceted game plan.
"They're very good right across the park," he said.
"I always think championship sides have the ability to play four game plans. They've got a good kicking game, an expansive game, they can play a tight game and they can play with real intelligence mixing it up.
"They've also got two world class players in Will Genia and Quade Cooper that when they're on their game are very hard to control. So that mix really makes them lethal. For us it's about shutting them down right across the park and we won't be able to relax for one second."
Blues: 15 Charles Piutau, 14 Frank Halai, 13 Rene Ranger, 12 Jackson Willison, 11 Albert Nikoro, 10 Chris Noakes, 9 Piri Weepu, 8 Peter Saili, 7 Luke Braid, 6 Steven Luatua, 5 Ali Williams, 4 Culum Retallick, 3 Angus Ta'avao, 2 James Parsons, 1 Tom McCartney.
Replacements: 16 Keven Mealamu, 17 Ofa Tu'ungafasi, 18 Ronald Raaymakers, 19 Brendon O'Connor, 20 Jamison Gibson-Park, 21 Baden Kerr, 22 Francis Saili.
Date: Friday, April 26
Venue: Suncorp Stadium, Brisbane
Kick-off: 19.40 AEST (21.40 NZ time; 09.40 GMT)
Referee: Craig Joubert (South Africa)
Assistant referees: Rohan Hoffmann (Australia), Damien Mitchelmore (Australia)
TMO: Steve Leszczynski (Australia)