Ioane takes Sonny Bill’s spot as Blues welcome Sharks
Auckland - Blues coach Tana Umaga has named his team for Saturday’s Super Rugby encounter against the Sharks at Eden Park (kick-off 08:35 SA time).
Umaga has made some changes to the team that lost 37-20 to the Stormers in Cape Town on March 17.
In the backline, the loss of Sonny Bill Williams means that in-form Rieko Ioane moves to inside centre to form a formidable partnership with fellow All Black George Moala.
There is also a new starting halfback partnership with elusive scrumhalf Jonathan Ruru given his chance to start alongside flyhalf Stephen Perofeta, who has impressed in his two games off the bench since recovering from injury.
All Blacks Ofa Tu'ungafasi and Matt Duffie have been given one of their two mandated rest games which allows a first Super start for Jordan Trainor on the right wing and popular North Harbour prop Mike Tamoaieta.
Northland’s Josh Goodhue, another who has recovered from injury and impressed in development games, has his second game for the Blues at lock, replacing the injured Scott Scrafton.
15 Michael Collins, 14 Jordan Trainor, 13 George Moala, 12 Rieko Ioane, 11 Melani Nanai, 10 Stephen Perofeta, 9 Jonathan Ruru, 8 Akira Ioane, 7 Murphy Taramai, 6 Jerome Kaino, 5 Patrick Tuipulotu, 4 Josh Goodhue, 3 Mike Tamoaieta, 2 James Parsons (captain), 1 Pauliasi Manu
Substitutes: 16 Leni Apisai, 17 Ross Wright, 18 Sione Mafileo, 19 Jimmy Tupou, 20 Kara Pryor, 21 Sam Nock, 22 Bryn Gatland, 23 TJ Faiane