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    Blues change six for Crusaders duel

    2016-03-02 11:54

    Cape Town - The Blues have surprisingly made several changes to their team that will meet the Crusaders in Christchurch on Friday.

    Coach Tana Umaga said the Blues have competition for places across most positions and with half of the squad new this season, they are yet to settle on their top line-up.

    There are six changes to the team that beat the Highlanders 33-31 in the opening round at Eden Park.

    "We are going to need the entire squad throughout the year so it is important they get a taste of Super Rugby from the start," Umaga said.

    "There’s real competition for places as well. Pre-season is one thing, but we need to test some different players and different combinations.

    "Also, we do not want to get to the situation where we are forced to put players in to roles without them first experiencing it for their sakes and for us as coaches to evaluate their performance.

    "We are really comfortable with the changes and like last week, we feel we also have some firepower coming off the bench."

    There are two changes in the forwards, with captain Jerome Kaino returning from suspension and Quentin MacDonald switching with James Parsons at hooker.

    Billy Guyton and Matt McGahan join forces in a new inside back combination with Rene Ranger earning a start, swapping with Male Sa’u.

    Former Melbourne Storm player Matt Duffie makes his debut at fullback with coaches not taking any risks with a niggling injury for Lolagi Visinia.

    It also marks the 50th Blues cap for loose forward Steven Luatua, who impressed in the victory over the Highlanders.

    The bench again includes All Black Charlie Faumuina and Sevens luminary Akira Ioane.

    Not considered because of injury are: Afa Fa’atau (shin fracture), Tanerau Latimer (calf strain), Ben Lam (knee strain).

    Teams:

    Crusaders

    15 David Havili, 14 Jone Macilai, 13 Sean Wainui, 12 Kieron Fonotia, 11 Nemani Nadolo, 10 Richie Mo'unga, 9 Andy Ellis, 8 Kieran Read, 7 Tim Boys, 6 Jordan Taufua, 5 Sam Whitelock (captain), 4 Scott Barrett, 3 Owen Franks, 2 Codie Taylor, 1 Joe Moody

    Substitutes: 16 Ben Funnell, 17 Wyatt Crockett, 18 Mike Alaalatoa, 19 Jimmy Tupou, 20 Pete Samu, 21 Leon Fukofuka, 22 Ben Volavola, 23 Johnny McNicholl

    Blues

    15 Matt Duffie, 14 Melani Nanai, 13 Rene Ranger, 12 George Moala, 11 Tevita Li, 10 Matt McGahan, 9 Billy Guyton, 8 Steven Luatua, 7 Blake Gibson, 6 Jerome Kaino (captain), 5 Josh Bekhuis, 4 Patrick Tuipulotu, 3 Sione Mafileo, 2 Quentin MacDonald, 1 Ofa Tu'ungafasi

    Substitutes: 16 James Parsons, 17 Sam Prattley, 18 Charlie Faumuina, 19  Akira Ioane, 20 Kara Pryor, 21 Bryn Hall, 22 Ihaia West, 23 Male Sa'u

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