Braid returns to face Sharks
Auckland - Luke Braid returns from injury to captain the Blues in their Super Rugby clash against the Sharks in North Harbour on Friday.
The openside flank missed their last two games against the Chiefs and Reds with a shoulder injury, but after another week off with a bye, Braid is back to full fitness and ready to face the Durbanites.
“It was really important to make sure we gave Luke time to recover from his shoulder,” Blues coach John Kirwan told the team's official website
“He’s our leader and has been playing out of his skin for us so I think it’s really good that he’s back and he will give us good direction and leadership."
Braid’s inclusion ahead of Brendon O’Connor is the only change to the forward pack, while Charles Piutau’s knee injury has forced a reshuffle to the backline with Lolagi Visinia moving from fullback to wing and New Zealand Under-20 player Tevita Li starting on the left wing.
Pita Ahki will start at centre in place of injured players Francis Saili and Jackson Willison.
Scrumhalf Jamison Gibson-Park comes onto the bench in place of Piri Weepu who injured his groin playing club rugby in Wellington last week, while outside back Albert Nikoro is named in the squad for the first time this season.
Kick-off for Friday's game is scheduled for 09:35 (SA time).Teams:Blues:
15 Lolagi Visinia, 14 Frank Halai, 13 Pita Ahki, 12 Ma'a Nonu, 11 Tevita Li, 10 Simon Hickey, 9 Bryn Hall, 8 Jerome Kaino, 7 Luke Braid (captain), 6 Peter Saili, 5 Tom Donnelly, 4 Patrick Tuipulotu, 3 Charlie Faumuina, 2 Keven Mealamu, 1 Tony Woodcock.
Substitutes:16 James Parsons, 17 Sam Prattley, 18 Angus Ta'avao, 19 Hayden Triggs, 20 Steven Luatua, 21 Jamison Gibson-Park, 22 Ihaia West, 23 Albert NikoroSharks: