Mealamu starts as Blues welcome Stormers (team sheet)

All Black veteran hooker Keven Mealamu will start for the first time this season when his side take on the TeamsheetsStormers in North Harbour this weekend.

–          Mealamu take over from injured James Parsons.

–          Fancis Saili is promoted and starts in the centres.

–          Rene Ranger shifts to the wing.

–          Anothony Boric returns from injury to the bench.

–          Outside back Lolagi Visinia could make his debut off the bench.

“It was all part of the plan. Kevvie’s had his long break and we’ve brought him back into it, JP has done everything we’ve asked of him and he’s been playing exceptionally well. Having his small injury means Kevvie’s going to step up, he probably would have stepped up anyway and we’re looking for him to get back to the great form and the great player that he is.” Coach John Kirwan said.

“I think this is the best side to play the Stormers, I spoke to Rene this morning and bringing Ces (Francis) on at centre is our best attacking side for this game and that’s our motivation. There’s some good firepower out wide.” Kirwan said.

Talking about the Stormers challenge: “Their strengths are they’re very physical, great at mauling the ball and strangling you with a good kicking game and good pressure so we’re expecting them to bring that,”

The Blues host the Stormers in North Harbour on Friday, KO KO 19:35 NZ (09:35 CAT, 08:35 BST)

MM

Blues

15. Charles Piutau,14. Frank Halai,13. Francis Saili,12. Jackson Willison,11. Rene Ranger,10. Chris Noakes,9. Piri Weepu,8. Peter Saili,7. Luke Braid,6. Steven Luatua,5. Ali Williams (C),4. Culum Retallick,3. Angus Ta’avao,2. Keven Mealamu,1. Tom McCartney

Replacements : 16. Quentin MacDonald,17. Ofa Tu’ungafasi,18. Anthony Boric,19. Brendon O’Connor,20. Jamison Gibson-Park,21. Baden Kerr,22. Lolagi Visinia

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