Blues bring Ranger back into the midfield

Getty Images and James Mortimer     25 Apr 2013     Getty Images

Rene Ranger returns to his regular position at centre as Francis Saili is relegated to the bench, while Albert Nikoro will make his first start for the Blues on the wing.

George Moala has not been considered for selection due to breaking internal team protocols.

“He didn’t share some of the things that he needed to share with us. A big part of our team culture is honesty so he won’t be travelling with us. We've got protocols - they know the rules and we’re just enforcing them,” Kirwan said.

“Albert Nikoro has come in. He’s been training all week and he’s excited about the opportunity so it’s a great moment for him. He’s come off the bench for us, he’s one of our good, young guys and it’s important that we show we’ve got a squad that can step up.”

Counties Manukau lock Ronald Raaymakers has been named on the bench in place of Anthony Boric who is suffering from a neck injury.

Kirwan labelled the Reds the best team in the Investec Super Rugby competition and said it was due to their multi-faceted game plan.

“They’re very good right across the park,” he said.

“I always think championship sides have the ability to play four game plans. They’ve got a good kicking game, an expansive game, they can play a tight game and they can play with real intelligence mixing it up.

“They’ve also got two world class players in Will Genia and Quade Cooper that when they’re on their game are very hard to control. So that mix really makes them lethal. For us it’s about shutting them down right across the park and we won’t be able to relax for one second.”

The Blues team to face the Queensland Reds in Brisbane on Friday night (kick-off 9.40pm NZT) is:

15. Charles Piutau
14. Frank Halai
13. Rene Ranger
12. Jackson Willison
11. Albert Nikoro
10. Chris Noakes
9. Piri Weepu
8. Peter Saili
7. Luke Braid
6. Steven Luatua
5. Ali Williams
4. Culum Retallick
3. Angus Ta’avao
2. James Parsons
1. Tom McCartney

16. Keven Mealamu
17. Ofa Tu’ungafasi
18. Ronald Raaymakers
19. Brendon O’Connor
20. Jamison Gibson-Park
21. Baden Kerr
22. Francis Saili