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    Sonny Bill, Kaino start at Ellis Park

    2018-03-09 08:31

    Johannesburg - The Blues welcome back All Blacks Jerome Kaino and Sonny Bill Williams to their XV to face the Lions at Ellis Park on Saturday (17:15 kick-off).

    Kaino gets his first start of the season after coming on as a reserve last week, while Williams returns following a leg injury that sidelined him for a week.

    Williams will line up in the midfield with Rieko Ioane who moves in from the wing, allowing the attacking quality of Melani Nanai to remain on the wing - he currently makes the most metres per carry of any Super Rugby player.

    At scrumhalf, Sam Nock replaces injured skipper Augustine Pulu, pairing up with the in-form Bryn Gatland, while Stephen Perofeta, who played in the development match last weekend after injuring his hand in pre-season, comes on to the bench.

    Hooker James Parsons takes over as captain for his 80th Super Rugby game for the Blues in the front-row with Alex Hodgman and Ofa Tuungafasi, while the former New Zealand Schools and All Blacks Sevens player Antonio Kiri gets a start at loose forward.

    New Zealand Maori representatives Jonathan Ruru and experienced front-rower Ross Wright are included on the bench, where coach Tana Umaga has gone for a six forwards-two backs split.

    “The Lions are a formidable team. We well remember our last time here two years ago and we are keen to put that right,” said coach Umaga.

    “They have scored a lot of tries this season off their lineout drive so we have worked hard on this aspect. We need to be disciplined and not give them attacking chances from penalties although at the same time we need to be our usual aggressive selves at the breakdown.

    “This is a magnificent rugby stadium and conditions should be great, so if we can do well at set-piece, then we have plenty of attacking ability to enjoy the occasion.”

    Teams:

    Lions

    15 Andries Coetzee, 14 Sylvian Mahuza, 13 Lionel Mapoe, 12 Rohan Janse van Rensburg 11 Aphiwe Dyantyi, 10 Elton Jantjies, 9 Ross Cronje, 8 Warren Whiteley (captain), 7 Franco Mostert, 6 Cyle Brink, 5 Marvin Orie, 4 Andries Ferreira, 3 Ruan Dreyer, 2 Malcolm Marx, 1 Jacques van Rooyen

    Substitutes: 16 Robbie Coetzee, 17 Dylan Smith, 18 Jacobie Adriaanse, 19 Lourens Erasmus, 20 Kwagga Smith, 21 Hacjivah Dayimani, 22 Ashlon Davids, 23 Harold Vorster

    Blues

    15 Michael Collins, 14 Matt Duffie, 13 Rieko Ioane, 12 Sonny Bill Williams, 11 Melani Nanai, 10 Bryn Gatland, 9 Sam Nock, 8 Akira Ioane, 7 Antonio Kiri Kiri, 6 Jerome Kaino, 5 Gerard Cowley-Tuioti, 4 Patrick Tuipulotu, 3 Ofa Tuungafasi, 2 James Parsons (captain), 1 Alex Hodgman

    Substitutes: 16 Ross Wright, 17 Pauliasi Manu, 18 Michael Tamoaieta, 19 Scott Scrafton, 20 Jimmy Tupou, 21 Murphy Taramai, 22 Jonathan Ruru, 23 Stephen Perofeta

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