Blues name squad to face Sharks and Cheetahs
Blues head coach Sir John Kirwan has named his 26-man squad to travel to South Africa. The team departs for the Republic on Friday afternoon, playing the Sharks in Durban on June 29 before heading to Bloemfontein to face the Cheetahs on July 6.
The squad features 10 players who have not toured South Africa before, including Wider Training Group player Lolagi Visinia, who played on the wing for the New Zealand Under-20s this morning in their loss to England.
Visinia will fly from France following the playoff match against South Africa to join the team.
Kirwan said he was pleased with the make-up of his squad.
“I think the biggest factor for us was waiting on the guys’ game time from the All Blacks and making sure they’re OK to travel,” he said.
“We’ve gone for two halfbacks and three hookers so we’ve taken a bit of a risk there. We’re going to bring Lolagi Visinia over from the NZ 20s because he covers two or three positions so that made it a little bit hard on someone like Marty McKenzie, but when you’re touring it’s just a matter of making sure you get the mix right.”
Kirwan said it was crucial to kick-start the tour with a victory over the Sharks to stay in touch with the top six.
“The second week really means nothing yet. The Sharks game is a must-win for us, it’s like our final and that’s because if we win that then we stay completely in touch with the top six.
“The Cheetahs will then become a different kettle of fish so we just need to get back on the horse and play a good game of footy.”
The Blues squad to travel to South Africa is: