– Anthony Boric starts for the first time this season.
– Brendon O’Connor starts at openside flanker.
– Luke Braid and Culum Retallick are both rested.
– Tim Perry starst at loosehead prop in place of Tom McCartney.
– Quentin MacDonald replaces Keven Mealamu because of injury.
– George Moala starts on the wing.
– Rene Ranger starts back in the centres.
“Some of our guys have clocked up high Ks and it’s important that we give them a little bit of a break, we think Tim is getting better and better, there’s lots of competition on that loosehead side so he gets another crack at it. Brendon’s been coming off the bench and doing a great job. Although we don’t want Braidy out of the football game altogether he’s another one of the guys who has played just about every minute of every game so we need to be careful moving forward.” Kirwan said.
“I’ll take the rap for that but I think we’re a lot further down the track as a team and we’ve had a lot more trainings under the belt so the changes are more subtle. The boys have been in there and are working hard so it’s very different. We need to make sure we have a huge game so the guys need to bring fresh legs and fresh enthusiasm and that’s got to happen this week.” He added.
“The Rebels are a very good side, They’ve got James O’Connor who has been playing very well and Scott Higginbotham is organising the loose forwards well. They’ve been unlucky; they’ll be coming over here confident and they’ll be hoping we’re underestimating them and that’s not happening.” He concluded.
Blues vs Rebels, Auckland, KO 19:35 NZ (08:35 CAT, 08.35 BST)
15. Charles Piutau,14. Frank Halai,13. Rene Ranger,12. Francis Saili,11. George Moala,10. Chris Noakes,9. Piri Weepu,8. Peter Saili,7. Brendon O’Connor,6. Steven Luatua,5. Ali Williams (C),4. Anthony Boric,3. Angus Ta’avao,2. Quentin MacDonald,1. Tim Perry
Replacements :16. Gafatasi Su’a, 17. Ofa Tu’ungafasi, 18. Ronald Raaymakers, 19. Luke Braid, 20. Jamison Gibson-Park,21. Baden Kerr,22. Lolagi Visinia