Mealamu on the mend

RICHARD FERGUSON updates followers of the latest Super Rugby news from New Zealand.

Blues receive timely boost

The Blues take on the Highlanders in what is a must win encounter for both teams this weekend. The Blues come off three straight losses, but the Highlanders are yet to pick up a win this season.

The Blues have named their team to take the field in Auckland, with Jackson Willison named in midfield and the evergreen Keven Mealamu making his return to the Blues bench.

Willison will make his first appearance in a Blues jersey after making the move from the Chiefs at the end of last season while Keven Mealamu returns to rugby following his short sabbatical from the game.

Blues: 15. Charles Piutau, 14. Frank Halai, 13. Rene Ranger, 12. Jackson Willison, 11. George Moala, 10. Chris Noakes, 9. Piri Weepu, 8. Peter Saili, 7. Luke Braid, 6. Steven Luatua, 5. Culum Retallick, 4. Ali Williams (c), 3. Angus Ta’avao, 2. James Parsons, 1. Tim Perry. Substitutes: 16. Keven Mealamu, 17. Ofa Tu’ungafasi, 18. Anthony Boric, 19. Brendon O’Connor, 20. Jamison Gibson-Park , 21. Baden Kerr, 22. Francis Saili.

Irish coach sacked

The Irish Rugby Football Union sacked coach Declan Kidney after a horrendous Six Nations campaign, which ended with a loss to Italy. You may ask what this has to do with New Zealand news – it is his suspected replacement that holds the link.

Joe Schmidt, former assistant coach of the Blues and current Leinster boss is one of the favourites to take over the role. His name was mentioned before, but he distanced himself from any involvement by signing a year extension at Leinster. Leinster have won the Heineken Cup twice in as many years under Schmidt.

Schmidt has mentioned that he will return to New Zealand, as his family is keen to settle in their homeland, and that might be the only reason why he does not take the job.

Other contenders for the position include Reds coach Ewen McKenzie, who recently announced his exit at the Reds, who according to the Telegraph, is favourite for the position. Other contenders include Harlequins coach Conor O’Shea, Saracens coach Mark McCall, Ireland Under 20 coach Mike Ruddock and our favourite Brumbies coach, Jake White.