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    Improving Blues ready for Lions

    2017-06-06 13:43

    Cape Town - Blues fullback Michael Collins sees a bright future for the Aucklanders as he looks forward to the immediate prospect of facing the Lions.

    The former Scarlets player, who will take on former team-mate Ken Owens on Wednesday, has been in great form at the Blues this campaign.

    Despite them being out of Super Rugby play-off contention, Tana Umaga's side are playing good rugby and Collins is happy with their progress.

    "I genuinely think we're going to be pretty good, if we keep building in the right direction," he told Fairfax Media ahead of facing the British and Irish Lions at Eden Park.

    "You always want to be part of those moments. If I can contribute I would love to give it a crack.

    "This year we've gone a long way to upping that respect and getting that positivity back on board. I came up not expecting too much, but I'm loving what the coaches are doing."

    Looking ahead to taking on the tourists, Collins added: "These guys are an international team, and it's exciting to test yourself against arguably the very best in the game.

    "But we're going in with our mindset. The joy of not really knowing what they're doing means we can just do us. At training there hasn't been anything about what they bring. If we get us right we should be there or thereabouts."

    Joining Collins in the back-three on Wednesday will be wings Rieko Ioane and Matt Duffie, with the latter also relishing the chance they have.

    "This is like a test match for me, one of the biggest games of my career. In front of a packed crowd, against international players, I'm excited just to see where we're at in terms of our standard compared to the rest of the world," he said.

    "There's a lot of pride in our rugby, the way we play the game, and we always like to think we're the best country in the world in terms of our depth. This tour is going to prove it or disprove it.

    "The hard thing for the Lions is they're the hunted the whole time. It's a one-off game for us, we're balls out, because we've got 10 days off after. So what's there to lose for us? We're going in as underdogs."

    Teams:

    Blues

    15 Michael Collins, 14 Matt Duffie, 13 George Moala, 12 Sonny Bill Williams, 11 Rieko Ioane, 10 Stephen Perofeta, 9 Augustine Pulu, 8 Steven Luatua, 7 Blake Gibson, 6 Akira Ioane, 5 Scott Scrafton, 4 Gerard Cowley-Tuioti, 3 Charlie Faumuina, 2 James Parsons (captain), 1 Ofa Tu’ungafasi

    Substitutes: 16 Hame Faiva, 17 Alex Hodgman, 18 Sione Mafileo, 19 Patrick Tuipulotu, 20 Kara Pryor, 21 Sam Nock, 22 Ihaia West, 23 TJ Faiane

    British and Irish Lions

    15 Leigh Halfpenny (Wales), 14 Jack Nowell (England), 13 Jared Payne (Ireland), 12 Robbie Henshaw (Ireland), 11 Elliot Daly (England), 10 Dan Biggar (Wales), 9 Rhys Webb (Wales), 8 CJ Stander (Ireland), 7 Justin Tipuric (Wales), 6 James Haskell (England), 5 Courtney Lawes (England), 4 Maro Itoje (England), 3 Dan Cole (England), 2 Ken Owens (captain, Wales), 1 Jack McGrath (Ireland)

    Substitutes: 16 Rory Best (Ireland), 17 Joe Marler (England), 18 Kyle Sinckler (England), 19 Iain Henderson (Ireland), 20 Peter O'Mahony (Ireland), 21 Greig Laidlaw (Scotland), 22 Johnny Sexton (Ireland), 23 Liam Williams (Wales)

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