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    Francis makes miraculous recovery, starts for Blues

    2017-05-24 08:22

    Auckland - The Blues have named a near full-strength side for their match against the Chiefs at Eden Park on Friday. 

    Kick-off is at 09:35 SA time.

    All Black Patrick Tuipulotu returns to the starting line-up, while Michael Collins also returns at fullback after both came off the bench in the match against the Stormers at Newlands last Friday. 

    The All Black prop Charlie Faumuina will make his 98th appearance for the Blues. 

    Two others will near "milestones" with wing Matt Duffie and prop Sione Mafileo playing their 19th games for the Blues, one cap away from their blazer games. 

    Piers Francis will start at flyhalf after recovering from a head injury against the Stormers.

    Blues doctor Stephen Kara confirmed that Francis had not developed any further symptoms in a range of regular testing under the protocol since including a full neurological exam and neuro-cognitive testing via SCAT scan.

    He further tested clear after a return to training and completed the other graduated protocol steps to play with no recurrence of any symptoms. 

    There is interest in the potential debut of former New Zealand Under-20s player Stephen Perofeta, who is listed on the bench.

    He has been sidelined with an ankle injury for most of the season, but returned to club rugby last weekend.

    Teams:

    Blues

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

    Substitutes: 16 Hame Faiva, 17 Alex Hodgman, 18 Sione Mafileo, 19 Gerard Cowley-Tuioti, 20 Kara Pryor, 21 Sam Nock, 22 Stephen Perofeta, 23 TJ Faiane

    Chiefs

    15 Damian McKenzie, 14 Tim Nanai-Williams, 13 Anton Lienert-Brown, 12 Johnny Faauli, 11 James Lowe, 10 Aaron Cruden, 9 Tawera Kerr-Barlow, 8 Liam Messam, 7 Sam Cane (captain), 6 Mitchell Brown, 5 Brodie Retallick, 4 Dominic Bird, 3 Nepo Laulala, 2 Nathan Harris, 1 Kane Hames

    Substitutes: 16 Hika Elliot, 17 Siegfried Fisi’ihoi, 18 Atu Moli, 19 Taleni Seu, 20 Lachlan Boshier, 21 Jonathan Taumateine, 22 Solomon Alaimalo 23 Shaun Stevenson

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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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