Sonny Bill starts against Sharks, Nonu dropped
Durban - Blues coach Leon MacDonald has named his team for Saturday’s Super Rugby clash against the Sharks at Kings Park.
The Blues welcome three All Blacks into their starting line-up as props Ofa Tu'ungafasi and Karl Tu'inukuafe join centre Sonny Bill Williams in the run-on side.
Williams will run out at inside centre, with TJ Faiane moving to his outside as Ma'a Nonu, who started at No 12 against the Crusaders last weekend, falling out of the match-day 23.
There's a double celebration with Melani Nanai starting at fullback, and No 8 Akira Ioane playing in their 50Super Rugby game for the Blues. Ioane, who also played for the Blues against the Lions, celebrated 50 games for the Blues last week.
Tu'inukuafe and Tu'ungafasi make their first start together for the Blues, but both have also paired up with the All Blacks.
The remainder of the pack is the same that started against the Crusaders, including All Blacks Dalton Papalii and captain Patrick Tuipulotu.
New Zealand under-20s winger Caleb Clarke moves to the right wing after a superb pre-season with star All Black Rieko Ioane on the left wing, while the free-running Nanai, impressive against the Crusaders, moves to fullback.
Another New Zealand under-20s player, Tanielu Tele'a, a versatile outside back who also impressed in pre-season, is positioned for his debut off the bench.
Saturday’s clash is scheduled for 15:05.
15 Aphelele Fassi, 14 Sbu Nkosi, 13 Lukhanyo Am, 12 Andre Esterhuizen, 11 Makazole Mapimpi, 10 Robert du Preez, 9 Louis Schreuder (captain), 8 Daniel du Preez, 7 Tyler Paul, 6 Jacques Vermeulen, 5 Ruan Botha, 4 Hyron Andrews, 3 Coenie Oosthuizen, 2 Akker van der Merwe, 1 Tendai Mtawarira
Substitutes: 16 Kerron van Vuuren, 17 Juan Schoeman, 18 Thomas du Toit, 19 Gideon Koegelenberg, 20 Phepsi Buthelezi, 21 Cameron Wright, 22 Jeremy Ward, 23 Curwin Bosch
15 Melani Nanai, 14 Caleb Clarke, 13 TJ Faiane, 12 Sonny Bill Williams, 11 Rieko Ioane, 10 Otere Black, 9 Jonathan Ruru, 8 Akira Ioane, 7 Dalton Papalii, 6 Tom Robinson, 5 Josh Goodhue, 4 Patrick Tuipulotu (captain), 3 Ofa Tu’ungafasi, 2 James Parsons, 1 Karl Tu’inukuafe
Substitutes: 16 Matt Moulds, 17 Alex Hodgman, 18 Sione Mafileo, 19 Gerard Cowley-Tuioti, 20 Matt Matich, 21 Augustine Pulu, 22 Harry Plummer, 23 Tanielu Tele’a