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Blues last chance for impact at home

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Lynn McConnell     25 May 2017     Getty Images

Their Friday night clash is a last chance to leave a positive impression on home fans after an improved, but still disappointing return in Investec Super Rugby season.

The side had been bolstered by first five-eighths Piers Francis' clearance from concussion issues when he was injured in the loss to the Stormers in Cape Town at the weekend.

QUICK TAP: FRANCIS KEEN TO MAKE MOST OF CHIEFS DERBY

Coach Tana Umaga said Francis had done everything by the book, he had passed his test after the game and he had done everything required of him in the follow-ups.

"It's not something we take lightly but again, once he's fulfilled the process he's made himself available and the medical staff have done that as well and they've left no stone unturned in terms of getting him right."

Umaga said Blues doctor Dr Steven Kara was part of a focus group on concussion and didn't take the issues lightly and as a result the management was very happy with the decision that had been made around Francis' availability.

He said he was impressed with Francis' commitment to the side and desire to play for the Blues ahead of what was a big achievement for him in being selected for England's tour of Argentina.

"If you worry about things too far down the track that's when you usually get hurt so he's doing everything he can to play well for the Blues and we're happy about that," he said.
The game sees Stephen Perofeta named on the bench for the first time, it was an opportunity for him, Umaga said, and he was looking forward to it.

Umaga said it had been tough for the young Taranaki player who had been injured before the start of the Super Rugby competition. He had not had a lot of injuries before.

Learning about what went into the rehabilitation process was something of an education for him.

"That was something new for him; having to be on call all the time for our medical staff and making sure that he ticks those things off. That was a learning curve then he tried to come back once and got injured again in the same area, tried to come back again and did it again and when you are young you probably think you can come back straight away. All of these things are new. Now he's done all he can and it's a credit to our medical staff for what they've done.

"They've taken a little bit longer to hold him back but now he's been named and he's pretty excited about it, but I'm sure there's some nerves around. He's a cool customer and we're going to make sure that everyone around him helps him out.

"Obviously the expectation is there but we've just got to calm him down so he can enjoy himself out there," he said.