Keo.co.za brings you news from New Zealand’s Super Rugby franchises.
Double boost for Blues – Luke McAlister and Anthony Boric have recovered from injury and will start for the Blues against the Reds in Brisbane on Friday.
The centre and lock missed the Blues’ win over the Hurricanes last weekend, but will play in the top of the table clash. However, the big loss is in-form flanker Jerome Kaino, who is out with a hamstring injury.
This sees Boric replace Chris Lowrey in the second row, and the latter switches to blindside flank in place of Kaino. McAlister’s start sees a shuffle in the backline as Benson Stanley moves to outside centre and Rene Ranger goes back to wing.
Blues – 15 Jared Payne, 14 Joe Rokocoko, 13 Benson Stanley, 12 Luke McAlister, 11 Rene Ranger, 10 Stephen Brett, 9 Alby Mathewson, 8 Peter Saili, 7 Luke Braid, 6 Chris Lowrey, 5 Ali Williams, 4 Anthony Boric, 3 John Afoa, 2 Keven Mealamu (c), 1 Tevita Mailau.
Subs: 16 Tom McCartney, 17 Pauliasi Manu, 18 James King, 19 Sean Polwart, 20 Chris Smylie, 21 Lachie Munro, 22 Sherwin Stowers.
Weepu, Nonu back for Canes – Piri Weepu will make his first appearance for the Hurricanes this season while Ma’a Nonu has recovered from an eye injury.
Weepu has been sidelined with a broken ankle since last year, but has now recovered and finds a place on the bench. Nonu replaces Daniel Kirkpatrick at inside centre.
Outside centre Conrad Smith has been given another week to recover from a broken nose.
Hurricanes – 15 Andre Taylor, 14 Alapati Leiua, 13 Jayden Hayward, 12 Ma’a Nonu, 11 Hosea Gear, 10 Aaron Cruden, 9 Chris Eaton, 8 Victor Vito, 7 Jack Lam, 6 Faifili Levave, 5 James Broadhurst, 4 Jason Eaton, 3 Neemia Tialata, 2 Andrew Hore (c), 1 John Schwalger.
Subs: 16 Dane Coles, 17 Anthony Perenise, 18 Jeremy Thrush, 19 Mark Reddish, 20 Piri Weepu, 21 Julian Savea, 22 Beauden Barrett.
Landers ring changes – Jamie Joseph has made five changes to his team for the Highlanders’ clash against the Hurricanes on Friday.
Amongst the forwards, hooker Mo Schwalger rotates with Jason Rutledge while Tom Donnelly starts at lock and Jarrad Hoeata moves to blindside flank in place of the injured Adam Thomson.
In the backline, wing Telusa Veainu, inside centre Matt Saunders and speedster Kade Poki come in for Siale Piutau, James Paterson and Robbie Robinson, who drops to the bench and is bracketed with Tony Brown.
Highlanders - 15 Ben Smith, 14 Kade Poki, 13 Kendrick Lynn, 12 Matt Saunders, 11 Telusa Veainu, 10 Lima Sopoaga, 9 Jimmy Cowan, 8 Nasi Manu, 7 Alando Soakai, 6 Jarrad Hoeata, 5 Josh Bekhuis, 4 Tom Donnelly, 3 Chris King, 2 Mo Schwalger, 1 Jamie Mackintosh (c).
Subs: 16 Jason Rutledge, 17 Bronson Murray, 18 John Hardie, 19 Nick Crosswell, 20 Aaron Smith, 21 Ben Atiga, 22 Robbie Robinson/Tony Brown.
McCaw fit to face Cheetahs - Crusaders captain Richie McCaw has recovered from a head knock and is likely to start against the Cheetahs.
McCaw withdrew on the eve of the match against the Stormers last week, complaining of subtle symptoms of concussion after a clash of heads in their previous match against the Force.
However, he says he has made a full recovery. ‘There’s no way I would do anything silly and play when I shouldn’t. That’s when you can get into trouble, if you don’t respect the symptoms,’ he said. ‘I’m good as gold.’