PREVIEW: Brumbies v Blues
Friday, April 28, 2017 allblacks.com Getty Images
Although the Brumbies are top of the Australian Conference and the Blues are bottom of the NZ Conference, both teams are equal on points with 17. Both teams have lost their last two matches with the Brumbies losing a close contest against the Rebels before being thumped 56-21 against the Hurricanes last week. The Blues are coming off the bye and two close losses to the Highlanders (26-20) and the Hurricanes (28-24).
QUICK TAP: TALL ORDER FOR THE BLUES IN CANBERRA
The Blues suffered a big injury blow during the week with powerhouse loose forward Jerome Kaino ruled out for 4-6 weeks due to a knee injury. Kaino’s absence has meant a re-shuffle in the loose forward trio with Akira Ioane moving from the bench into the No.8 jersey, Steven Luatua shifting to blindside flanker while Blake Gibson retains his spot in the seven jersey. An ankle injury to Ihaia West means that newly selected England international Piers Francis stays in the ten jersey with Bryn Gatland providing cover on the bench.
With Wallabies prop Scott Sio out injured due to a knee injury suffered against the Hurricanes last week, a familiar face comes in at loosehead prop for the Brumbies. Former Blues and North Harbour prop Nic Mayhew will line up opposite Pauliasi Manu in what is sure to be a powerful contest up front. Mayhew made an immediate impact from the bench last week in setting up a try and strengthening the Brumbies scrum. He will be even more eager to make a positive impact against his former side.
The Blues have shifted Rieko Ioane from centre to the left wing to make way for a George Moala-Sonny Bill Williams combination in the midfield. The Brumbies have a strong duo of their own in Wallabies powerhouse Tevita Kuridrani and the experienced Andrew Smith. Smith is a highly regarded defender and will be looking to keep Sonny Bill Williams under control while Kuridrani will provide an attacking thrust.
The Blues have won just four of their last 34 games away from home.
Brumbies: 15. Tom Banks, 14. Henry Speight, 13. Tevita Kuridrani, 12. Andrew Smith, 11. James Dargaville, 10. Wharenui Hawera, 9. Joe Powell, 8. Lolo Fakaosilea, 7. Chris Alcock, 6. Scott Fardy, 5. Sam Carter, 4. Rory Arnold, 3. Allan Alaalatoa, 2. Josh Mann-Rea, 1. Nic Mayhew. Reserves: 16. Robbie Abel, 17. Ben Alexander, 18. Les Leuluaialii-Makin, 19. Blake Enever, 20. Jarrad Butler, 21. De Wet Roos, 22. Jordan Jackson-Hope, 23. Aidan Toua.
Blues: 15. Michael Collins, 14. Matt Duffie, 13. George Moala, 12. Sonny Bill Williams, 11. Rieko Ioane, 10. Piers Francis, 9. Augustine Pulu, 8. Akira Ioane, 7. Blake Gibson, 6. Steven Luatua, 5. Scott Scrafton, 4. Gerard Cowley-Tuioti, 3. Charlie Faumuina, 2. James Parsons, 1. Pauliasi Manu. Reserves: 16. Matt Moulds, 17. Ofa Tu'ungafasi, 18. Sione Mafileo, 19. Leighton Price, 20. Murphy Taramai, 21. Billy Guyton, 22. Bryn Gatland, 23. Melani Nanai.
INJURY UPDATE | @jeromekaino out of rugby for 4-6 weeks.
READ: https://t.co/pbHycnDLrh pic.twitter.com/2WSCQjgkwg— Super Rugby (@SuperRugbyNZ) April 27, 2017
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