PREVIEW: Blues v Jaguares

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Thursday, March 31, 2016    Lynn McConnell    Getty Images

A first outing between these two sides after the Jaguares debut this season. An interesting choice by the Blues to play the game in Albany, it isn't one of their most successful venues and for a change they won't be battling against South African New Zealanders who traditionally barrack for sides from the Republic when they play locally.

Both sides go into the game with one win and looking for more points and both have opted not to go with prospectively their strongest sides. That is less the case for the Blues whose only real change has been in midfield where Piers Francis is being given a debut start while George Moala has been relegated to the bench. But the Jaguares have rested several of their most experienced internationals. That can have the effect of younger, less experienced players taking their chance and standing up with key performances. Which will be the best approach?

As mentioned Albany hasn't been a fortress by any means for the Blues, their last win was in 2013 there. But as skipper James Parsons noted, and as North Harbour captain he knows better than most, it is just a rugby field, and if the truth be known it is more like a proper rugby ground, close to the spectators and a good, true surface.

Nic Mayhew starts at loosehead prop for the Blues this week. The son of former All Blacks doctor John Mayhew, who was made a life member of North Harbour Rugby this week, he has been playing overseas but has returned to home base and is reputed to be capable of lifting some serious metal in the gym. Just how that equates to handling scrummaging will be seen against the power of the Argentinian scrum.

The teams:

Blues: 1.Nic Mayhew, 2.James Parsons (captain), 3. Charlie Faumuina, 4.Patrick Tuipulotu, 5.Josh Bekhuis, 6.Joe Edwards, 7.Blake Gibson, 8.Steven Luatua, 9.Bryn Hall, 10.Ihaia West, 11.Tevita Li, 12.Piers Francis, 13.Rene Ranger, 14.Rieko Ioane, 15.Lolagi Visinia.

Reserves: 16.Quentin MacDonald, 17.Sam Prattley, 18.Ofa Tu'ungafasi, 19.Hoani Matenga, 20.Akira Ioane, 21.Billy Guyton, 22.Matt McGahan, 23.George Moala.

Jaguares: 1.Roberto Tejerizo, 2.Julian Montoya, 3.Ramiro Herrera, 4.Guido Petti, 5.Tomas Lavanini, 6.Tomas Lezana, 7.Rodrigo Baez, 8.Leonardo Senatore, 9.Martin Landajo, 10.Santiago Gonzalez Iglesias, 11.Manuel Montero, 12.Jeronimo de la Fuente, 13.Matias Moroni, 14.Emiliano Boffelli, 15.Ramiro Moyano.

Reserves: 16.Facundo Bosch, 17.Santiago Garcia Botta, 18.Enrique Pieretto, 19.Juan Cruz Guillemain, 20.Pablo Matera, 21.Gonzalo Bertranou, 22.Nicolas Sanchez, 23.Joaquin Paz.