All Blacks return for Force match

All Blacks return for Force match

The Blues welcome back captain Jerome Kaino and fellow All Blacks Charles Piutau and James Parsons for the Super Rugby game against the Western Force on Saturday.

The Round 12 match, at the earlier time of 5.30pm, sees the Blues returning to their fortress of Eden Park for just the second time this season, after their win over the high-flying Brumbies there earlier this month.
Kaino said he feels refreshed, mentally and physically, after his week’s break and with six games remaining there is still plenty for the team to focus on to finish the season strongly.
Kaino and Piutau return to the starting line-up with Parsons coming off the bench, along with former skipper Luke Braid, who has missed the last two games after a head knock.
Teenager star Akira Ioane retains his starting spot after eye-catching displays against the Highlanders and the Crusaders, with Lolagi Visinia rewarded with a strong game at fullback last week, moving to the right wing.
The ever-consistent lock Josh Bekhuis and midfield back George Moala are carrying niggling injuries and are currently bracketed with a final decision tomorrow on their availability.
The KFC Curtain Raisers match is between Mt Albert Grammar and Sacred Heart at 3.05pm, with the main game at 5.30pm.
The Blues team is:
  1. Tony Woodcock
  2. Keven Mealamu
  3. Charlie Faumuina
  4. Josh Bekhuis/Culum Retallick
  5. Hayden Triggs
  6. Akira Ioane
  7. Brendon O’Connor
  8. Jerome Kaino (c)
  9. Jimmy Cowan
  10. Dan Bowden
  11. Melani Nanai
  12. George Moala/Hamish Northcott
  13. Francis Saili
  14. Lolagi Visinia
  15. Charles Piutau
Reserves:
16. James Parsons
17. Ofa Tu’ungafasi
18. Angus Ta’avao
19. Steven Luatua
20. Luke Braid
21. Jamison Gibson-Park
22. Ihaia West
23. Hamish Northcott/Tevita Li