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    Blues freshen up for Force fixture

    2017-03-30 11:28

    Cape Town - The Blues have stuck to a largely unchanged line-up for their Super Rugby clash against the Force at Eden Park in Auckland on Saturday.

    Kick-off is at 06:15 SA time.

    There are only two changes from the starting line-up that beat the Bulls last weekend.

    Young flank Blake Gibson gets a break after a highly physical game against the Bulls, giving North Harbour loose forward Murphy Taramai his second start.

    Coach Tana Umaga is also trying a new midfield option, with former New Zealand Under-20 player TJ Faiane getting his first Super Rugby start at inside centre, with George Moala moving out to second centre and Rieko Ioane to come off the bench.

    "Both Blake and Rieko are young players who have done extremely well in five straight games this year. Blake had a few bumps and bruises after last week and gets a chance to freshen up and Rieko has the opportunity to provide impact off the bench.

    "I am excited for TJ who has trained so hard and earned his opportunity to start. It will present us with another option in midfield and the chance for George to play a more expansive role at outside centre."

    Faiane played for the New Zealand Secondary Schools and the New Zealand Under-20s in 2014 and 2015, when he was also selected for Auckland. He suffered ACL injuries which ruled him out of rugby for much of 2015 and all of the 2016 season.

    Umaga said the team expects a tough challenge from the Force who will be motivated by the speculation that they may be dropped from the Super Rugby competition under the suggested new format.

    Teams:

    Blues

    15 Michael Collins, 14 Matt Duffie, 13 George Moala, 12 TJ Faiane, 11 Melani Nanai, 10 Piers Francis, 9 Augustine Pulu, 8 Jerome Kaino, 7 Murphy Taramai, 6 Jimmy Tupou, 4 Gerard Cowley-Tuioti, 3 Charlie Faumuina, 2 James Parsons (captain), 1 Pauliasi Manu

    Substitutes: 16 Matt Moulds, 17 Ofa Tu’ungafasi / Sam Prattley, 18 Sione Mafileo, 19 Scott Scrafton, 20 Akira Ioane, 21 Billy Guyton, 22 Ihaia West, 23 Rieko Ioane

    Force

    15 Dane Haylett-Petty, 14 Chance Peni, 13 Marcel Brache, 12 Billy Meakes, 11 Alex Newsome, 10 Jono Lance, 9 Ryan Louwrens, 8 Isi Naisarani, 7 Matt Hodgson, 6 Ross Haylett-Petty, 5 Richie Arnold, 4 Matt Philip, 3 Tetera Faulkner, 2 Tatafu Polota-Nau, 1 Ben Daley

    Substitutes: 16 Anaru Rangi, 17 Pek Cowan, 18 Shambeckler Vui, 19 Richard Hardwick, 20 Kane Koteka, 21 Michael Ruru, 22 Ian Prior, 23 Robbie Coleman

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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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