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    Sore knee rules SBW out of Blues-Reds clash

    2017-05-31 10:51

    Wellington - All Blacks centre Sonny Bill Williams has been ruled out of Friday's clash with the Reds in Apia due to injury.

    Williams is sidelined due to a knee injury sustained in last weekend's 16-16 draw with the Chiefs in Auckland.

    Blues head coach Tana Umaga included six All Blacks in his squad for their historic clash with the Reds in the Samoan capital.

    It will be the first Super Rugby match in Samoa, and the first major game under lights at Apia Park.

    The All Blacks on show include lock Patrick Tuipulotu, the in-form Steven Luatua, captain James Parsons, rising-star Rieko Ioane, and exciting midfielder Rene Ranger, while prop Ofa Tu’ungafasi will come off the bench.

    The Blues welcome back two key experienced players in Ranger and loose forward/lock Jimmy Tupou.

    Ranger, the six-Test All Black, missed last year with an ACL injury and his return this season has been cut short with a serious ankle injury.

    Meanwhile, Tupou was a key part of the side both on and off the field before a hamstring injury sidelined him for half of the season.

    Both return after strong showings in club rugby.

    Sione Mafileo and a returning Alex Hodgman have been rewarded for their excellent form against the Chiefs last week with starts in the front row.

    Youthful Northland pivot Sam Nock makes his first start at scrumhalf to spark a backline where in-form Rieko Ioane - with nine tries this year - forms a dangerous back three with exciting runners Melani Nanai and Declan O’Donnell.

    Several players have niggling injuries after a demanding month, which has forced Umaga to sit out Augustine Pulu, Blake Gibson, Matt Duffie and George Moala. Additionally, Charlie Faumuina has tonsillitis.

    However, there is star quality on the bench led by All Black Ofa Tu’ungafasi, the highly impressive Akira Ioane, and exciting flyhalf Stephen Perofeta.

    Friday's match in Apia, Samoa is scheduled for 09:35 (SA time).

    Teams:

    Blues

    15 Melani Nanai, 14 Declan O'Donnell, 13 Rene Ranger, 12 TJ Faiane, 11 Rieko Ioane, 10 Piers Francis, 9 Sam Nock, 8 Steven Luatua, 7 Kara Pryor, 6 Jimmy Tupou, 5 Gerard Cowley-Tuioti, 4 Patrick Tuipulotu, 3 Sione Mafileo, 2 James Parsons (captain), 1 Alex Hodgman.

    Substitutes: 16 Hame Faiva, 17 Sam Prattley, 18 Ofa Tu'ungafasi, 19 Akira Ioane, 20 Murphy Taramai, 21 Billy Guyton, 22 Stephen Perofeta, 23 Jordan Trainor

    Reds

    15 Karmichael Hunt, 14 Chris Kuridrani, 13 Samu Kerevi (captain), 12 Duncan Paia'aua, 11 Eto Nabuli, 10 Quade Cooper, 9 James Tuttle, 8 Scott Higginbotham, 7 George Smith, 6 Hendrik Tui, 5 Lukhan Tui, 4 Izack Rodda, 3 Taniela Tupou, 2 Andrew Ready, 1 Sef Fa'agase 

    Substitutes: 16 Alex Mafi, 17 Kirwan Sanday, 18 Sam Talakai, 19 Kane Douglas, 20 Adam Korczyk, 21 Caleb Timu, 22 Nick Frisby, 23 Jake McIntyre

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    Fixtures

    Saturday, 17 February 2018
    • Stormers v Jaguares, Cape Town 15:05
    • Lions v Sharks, Emirates Airlines Park 17:15
    Friday, 23 February 2018
    • Highlanders v Blues, 08:35
    • Rebels v Reds, AAMI Park 10:45
    Saturday, 24 February 2018
    • Sunwolves v Brumbies, Prince Chichibu Memorial Stadium 06:15
    • Crusaders v Chiefs, 08:35
    • Waratahs v Stormers, Allianz Stadium 10:45
    • Lions v Jaguares, Emirates Airlines Park 15:05
    • Bulls v Hurricanes, Loftus Versfeld 17:15

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