Ranger ready to claim his 50th cap

By Cameron Leslie

Rene Ranger will tonight claim his 50th Super Rugby cap for the Blues, joining the few Northlanders who have achieved such a feat.

After having debuted for the Blues in 2009, Ranger reaches the milestone which has previously been only been reached by Northland stalwarts Justin Collins (92) and Derren Witcombe (53).

The 26-year-old said he hadn't thought about the magnitude of his achievement, but agreed there were not many Northlanders who had played 50 Super Rugby matches for the Blues.

"Exactly," said Ranger. "I suppose I've just been honoured to be sticking around, the Blues keep picking me. To receive those 50 games, I'm pretty stoked."

Ranger will share the occasion with All Black halfback Piri Weepu, and admits if he is called on to lead out the team out of the tunnel it will be different to his usual.

"I usually run out last. I just can't wait to get out there. With it being the start of season and playing the Hurricanes I'm just keen to get out and play some footy."

Blues coach Sir John Kirwan said it would be a special night for two of his most experienced players.

"It's a special achievement for Piri in front of his whanau and against his old team. It was an emotional place for him to leave but we're proud he'll be playing his 100th Super Rugby game for us in front of his family with his new family.

"We've also got Rene's 50th game. He's a Blues man and played every single one of his 50 games with us so it's a special night for him, too. It's just really important that all the guys do their jobs, these milestones are important and they're important if we put in a good performance."

Known as a dynamic midfielder, Ranger is entering his fifth Super Rugby campaign with the Blues.

Ranger will be looking to use his trademark sidestep and acceleration to spark tonight's game into life, and hopefully crossing the line to bring up 100 points for the Blues.

Ranger was selected for the All Blacks in 2010, earning three caps against Wales, South Africa and Australia.

Tonight's match against the Hurricanes kicks off at 7.35pm and is being played at Westpac Stadium.

Blues: Charles Piutau, Frank Halai, Rene Ranger, Francis Saili, George Moala, Chris Noakes, Piri Weepu; Peter Saili, Luke Braid, Steven Luatua, Ali Williams (c), Culum Retallick, Charlie Faumuina, James Parsons, Tom McCartney. Reserves: Jackson Willison, Baden Kerr, Bryn Hall, Brendon O'Connor, Liaki Moli, Angus Ta'avao, Quentin MacDonald.

Hurricanes: Andre Taylor, Alapati Leiua, Conrad Smith (c), Tim Bateman, Julian Savea, Beauden Barrett, TJ Perenara; Brad Shields, Karl Lowe, Victor Vito, Jason Eaton, Jeremy Thrush, Ben May, Dane Coles, Ben Franks. Reserves: Ash Dixon, Reggie Goodes, Mark Reddish, Faifili Levave, Chris Smylie, James Marshall, Reynold Lee-Lo.

- Northern Advocate

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