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    Blues forced into mass changes for Highlanders clash

    2018-04-18 08:59

    Auckland - Blues head coach Tana Umaga has made several changes to his starting XV for their New Zealand derby with the Highlanders in Auckland on Friday.

    Kick-off is at 09:35 SA time.

    Bryn Gatland returns for his fifth start at flyhalf, with in-form Stephen Perofeta, who has started in the last three games at No 10, moving back to fullback.

    It is not a position that is foreign to him, having played much of his time at Taranaki in that position, which offers him more room for his elusive running.

    Perofeta starts in the number 15 jersey with the other custodians Melani Nanai, Jordan Trainor and Michael Collins among the 18 walking-wounded not considered for selection by the Blues this week.

    The tight five remains mostly intact with the versatile Jimmy Tupou moving into the second row - a role he has played often - alongside the in-form Patrick Tuipulotu who will be honoured after the game having achieved his 50th cap for the Blues in last weekend's win over the Sunwolves in Tokyo.

    Last year’s New Zealand U20s player Dalton Papali'i, impressive off the bench in Tokyo, gets his first start after injury earlier in the season, taking Tupou’s spot on the flank.

    In the backs, Rieko Ioane moves back to his accustomed left wing where his battle with All Blacks team-mate Waisake Naholo should be a show-stopper, with TJ Faiane and Orbyn Leger paired in the midfield.

    A storming debut with two tries for big Northland wing Jordan Hyland earns him a second start leaving All Black Matt Duffie to cover the back three spots off the bench.

    Teams:

    Blues15 Stephen Perofeta, 14 Jordan Hyland, 13 Orbyn Leger, 12 TJ Faiane, 11 Rieko Ioane, 10 Bryn Gatland, 9 Jonathan Ruru, 8 Akira Ioane, 7 Kara Pryor, 6 Dalton Papali'i, 5 Jimmy Tupou, 4 Patrick Tuipulotu, 3 Ofa Tu'ungafasi/Mike Tamoaieta, 2 James Parsons (captain), 1 Pauliasi Manu

    Substitutes: 16 Matt Moulds/Leni Apisai, 17 Ross Wright, 18 Mike Tamoaieta/Sione Mafileo, 19 Ben Neenee, 20 Murphy Taramai, 21 Sam Nock, 22 Tumua Manu, 23 Matt Duffie

    Highlanders

    15 Ben Smith (co-captain), 14 Waisake Naholo, 13 Rob Thompson, 12 Tei Walden, 11 Tevita Li, 10 Lima Sopoaga, 9 Kayne Hammington, 8 Luke Whitelock, 7 Dillon Hunt, 6 Shannon Frizell, 5 Tom Franklin, 4 Jackson Hemopo, 3 Siate Tokolahi, 2 Ash Dixon (co-captain), 1 Daniel Lienert-Brown

    Substitutes: 16 Liam Coltman, 17 Aki Seiuli, 18 Tyrel Lomax, 19 Alex Ainley, 20 Elliot Dixon, 21 Aaron Smith, 22 Fletcher Smith, 23 Matt Faddes

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