Sydney - Blues coach John Kirwan didn't mince words in welcoming news that his
team won't face newly-suspended Wallabies and Melbourne Rebels star
Kurtley Beale on Saturday.
Beale has been stood down from the Super Rugby match at Eden
Park for breaking a condition of his return from an earlier suspension
by drinking alcohol last weekend.
Last Friday, he returned via the bench against the Chiefs and almost inspired the Rebels to a come-from-behind victory.
"You saw him (Beale) last week," Kirwan said.
"A real X-factor player, makes a difference, so one less, good for us."
Kirwan has made five changes to his starting team, resting some players.
But despite those changes and Beale's omission, Kirwan said
there would be no way the fifth-placed Blues would take the 12th placed
Rebels lightly, with the likes of James O'Connor and Scott Higginbotham
in their side.
"They've been unlucky," Kirwan said of a team whose last three results have been close losses.
"They'll come here confident and they'll be hoping that we're under-estimating them and that's not happening."
Openside flanker Luke Braid and lock Culum Retallick, who
have both played plenty of minutes this season, get a break, with Braid
included on the bench.
Brendon O'Connor takes over the No 7 jersey while Anthony Boric comes in for Retallick.
Tim Perry will start at loosehead prop in place of Tom McCartney.
The two other changes are injury-related, with Quentin
MacDonald starting at hooker while Keven Mealamu rests a niggly calf
Inside centre Jackson Willison hasn't recovered sufficiently
from an ankle injury and is replaced in a reshuffled backline by winger
Kirwan said the situation now was different from when he made a raft of changes against the Bulls in round three.
Having won their first two matches, the Blues were outmuscled by the South Africans in a 28-21 defeat.
"I think we're a lot further down the track as a team and we've had a lot more trainings under the belt," he said.
"The changes are a little bit subtle and the boys have been in there and doing it."
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 (captain), 4
Anthony Boric, 3 Angus Ta'avao, 2 Quentin MacDonald, 1 Tim Perry
16 Gafatasi Su'a, 17 Ofa Tu'ungafasi, 18 Ronald Raaymakers, 19 Luke
Braid, 20 Jamison Gibson-Park, 21 Baden Kerr, 22 Lolagi Visinia