Keo.co.za brings you news from New Zealand’s Super Rugby franchises.
Blues, Landers field big names – The Blues and Highlanders will field strong teams in their warm-up match in Balclutha this weekend.
While several of their All Blacks will sit out, the two New Zealand franchises will test their new signings in their first pre-season match on Saturday.
Fullback Jaryd Payne (Crusaders), wing Sherwin Stowers (NZ Sevens) and Luke Braid (Chiefs) will start for the Blues, while wing Kade Poki and flyhalf Colin Slade (both Crusaders) feature for the Highlanders.
The match will be played in four quarters and both coaches aim to test all their players and various combinations during the game.
Blues – 15 Jared Payne, 14 Lachie Munro, 13 Benson Stanley, 12 Luke McAlister, 11 Sherwin Stowers, 10 Stephen Brett, 9 Chris Smylie, 8 Chris Lowrey, 7 Luke Braid, 6 Peter Saili, 5 Filo Paulo, 4 Kurtis Haiu, 3 Charlie Faumuina, 2 Tom McCartney, 1 Tevita Mailau.
Subs: 16 Ash Dixon, 17 Pauliasi Manu, 18 James King, 19 Sean Polwart, 20 Matt Luamanu, 21 Toby Morland, 22 Winston Stanley, 23 Nafi Tuitavake, 24 Auvasa Faleali’i, 25 Gareth Anscombe, 26 Aaron Bancroft.
Highlanders – 15 Ben Smith, 14 James Paterson, 13 Siali Piutau, 12 Shaun Treeby, 11 Kade Poki, 10 Colin Slade, 9 Aaron Smith, 8 Nasi Manu, 7 Adam Thomson, 6 Josh Bekhuis, 5 Joe Tuineau, 4 Jarrad Hoeata, 3 David Te Moana, 2 Jason Rutledge, 1 Jamie Mackintosh.
Subs: 16 Brayden Mitchell, 17 Bronson Murray/Halani Aulika, 18 John Hardie/Alando Soakai, 19 Sean Romans, 20 Lima Sopoaga, 22 Matt Saunders, 23 Kenny Lynn, 24 Telusa Veainu, 25 Robbie Robinson.
Umaga to miss Chiefs opener - Tana Umaga will miss the Chiefs’ first pre-season match against the Hurricanes on Saturday.
The 37-year-old made his return to New Zealand from France last year and is set to feature for the Chiefs in this year’s Super Rugby. However, he was not considered for their warm-up game against the Hurricanes.
A host of key players will also miss the Chiefs’ clash. Head coach Ian Foster has rested the likes of Richard Kahui, Taniela Moa, Scott Waldrom, Isaac Ross, Toby Smith, Sitiveni Sivivatu, Colin Bourke, Hikawera Elliot, Stephen Donald, Mils Muliaina and Liam Messam.
Chiefs – 15 Tim Nanai-Williams, 14 Leila Masaga, 13 Jackson Willison, 12 Dwayne Sweeney, 11 Ashee Tuala, 10 Mike Delany, 9 Tawera Kerr-Barlow, 8 Fritz Lee, 7 Tanerau Latimer, 6 Hayden Triggs, 5 Romana Graham, 4 Culum Retallick, 3 Ben Afeaki, 2 Aled de Malmanche, 1 Ben May.
Subs: Daniel Perrin, Nathan White, Craig Clarke, Sam Cane, Alex Bradley, Phillip Burleigh, Sona Taumalolo, Brendon Leonard, Mark Selwyn, Trent Renata, Save Tokula, Simon Lamalu.
Williams ready for Super Rugby – After a month long stint at Nottingham, Ali Williams says he’s ready to make his return to Super Rugby.
The 29-year-old All Blacks and Blues lock was sidelined for the past two seasons with repetitive Achilles injuries but declared himself match fit after playing the full 80 minutes in Nottingham’s 37-8 win over Rotherham.
‘I have got over the mental side of things and proved that I can last 80 minutes,’ he told The Telegraph. ‘I am still at the base of the mountain and it’s a long way to the top. But the idea of coming here was to get used to playing rugby again at a lower level [Nottingham are a second tier team in England] and to get rid of the mental baggage that went with being injured for so long.’
Williams will join the Blues at their pre-season camp in Northland next week.