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    Mealamu back for Blues

    2014-04-16 07:44

    Auckland - Veteran hooker Keven Mealamu will make his long-awaited return to Super Rugby against the Hurricanes in Wellington on Friday after battling back from another calf injury that sidelined him for more than a month.

    The veteran Blues forward has battled calf injuries for the last three seasons and has played just once in 2014, as a second half replacement against the Crusaders on February 28.

    "It's great to welcome Kevvie back," Blues coach John Kirwan said in a statement in which he named Mealamu to start against the Hurricanes in a Blues' front row that includes fellow All Blacks Tony Woodcock and Charlie Faumuina.

    "It was a decision as to whether we brought him off the bench or just threw him out there and I think he's got the experience and the fitness to be able to start.

    "He's 100 percent so well just get him out there from the start."

    The 35-year-old Mealamu returned from the Blues' tour of South Africa last month after straining his left calf muscle and his ongoing injuries are causing a concern for All Black coach Steve Hansen, particularly given new scrum laws place intense pressure on the lower limbs of the front row.

    Hansen is hoping to have a good idea of his squad for the 2015 World Cup in England by the end of this season and needs to blood a new test hooker this year after Andrew Hore retired from professional rugby after the end-of-year tour to Europe.

    Wellington's Dane Coles, who faces Mealamu at Wellington Regional Stadium on Friday, has been anointed as the likely successor to Hore but none of the other Super Rugby level hookers have looked up to international standard yet.

    That has left Hansen reliant on Mealamu being able to make it through to the global showpiece in late 2015.

    The All Blacks host England in a three-test series in June, with Stuart Lancaster's young side looming as a threat to the world champions' title defence in 17 months time.

    Teams:

    Hurricanes:

    TBA

    Blues:

    15. Charles Piutau, 14. George Moala, 13. Francis Saili, 12. Ma'a Nonu, 11. Lolagi Visinia, 10. Chris Noakes, 9. Bryn Hall, 8. Jerome Kaino, 7. Luke Braid (captain), 6. Steven Luatua, 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. Liaki Moli, 20. Brendon O'Connor, 21. Jamison Gibson-Park, 22. Benji Marshall, 23. Frank Halai

    Read More On:  blues super 15 keven mealamu rugby

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