– Francis Saili drops to the bench.
– Rene Ranger slots back into centre in place of Saili.
– Albert Nikoro wins his first start on the wing.
– George Moala has been suspended for internal reasons.
– Counties Manukau lock Ronald Raaymakers starts on the bench.
“He didn’t share some of the things that he needed to share with us. 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,” Said Kirwan on Moala.
“Albert Nikoro has come in. He’s been training all week and he’s excited about the opportunity so it’s a great moment for him. 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.” Said Kirwan.
Kirwan showed respect to the Reds by labelling the best team in the competition: “They’re very good right across the park, 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.”
The Blues travel to Brisbane to take on the Reds on Friday, KO 19:40 AUS (11:40 CAT, 10:40 BST)
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