Rugby: Nonu and Kaino to start for Blues

Jerome Kaino (L) and Maa Nonu of the Blues are about to enter the game during second half of the round six Super Rugby match between the Blues and the Cheetahs. Photo / Getty
Jerome Kaino (L) and Maa Nonu of the Blues are about to enter the game during second half of the round six Super Rugby match between the Blues and the Cheetahs. Photo / Getty

Ma'a Nonu, Jerome Kaino, Hayden Triggs and Bryn Hall have all been promoted from the reserves bench to start for the Blues against the Highlanders at Eden Park on Saturday night.

Head coach Sir John Kirwan has made five changes to the side that overcame the Cheetahs 40-30 last week as the Blues look to maintain their unbeaten record at Eden Park this season.

Kirwan said it was great to have two world-class players in Nonu and Kaino back in the starting XV.

"They're two World Cup-winning All Blacks and it was part of the plan to get them out there against the Cheetahs last week and get them on the football field from the first whistle against the Highlanders,'' Kirwan said.

"I like the intensity they bring around the place and I like the way they go about their business. They're a bit uncompromising which is what we need against the Highlanders on Saturday.''

Tom McCartney will make his first start of the season at hooker in place of James Parsons, while Triggs also earns his first start ahead of Tom Donnelly.

Kirwan said both Parsons and Donnelly had shouldered large workloads this season and it was important to manage them.

"James Parsons is on huge minutes and Tom McCartney deserves a crack at it, he's done everything we've asked of him and he hasn't had a crack this season so that's important.

"We've taken Tom Donnelly off his legs a bit this week and given him a rest and he'll be coming off the bench. Triggsy's been in the system now and we need to get him out there.''

Kaino will start at blindside flanker as Steven Luatua shifts to No8 to cover for Peter Saili who has had a sore foot.

In the backs, halfback Hall starts instead of Piri Weepu, who recently suffered a minor stroke.

Northland's Sonatane Takulua, who played in the Blues' pre-season fixtures, comes on to the bench as Jamison Gibson-Park is still injured.

Nonu's inclusion in the starting XV at second-five sees Jackson Willison move out to centre and George Moala shift to the wing as Tevita Li drops out of the match day 23.

The Blues team to face the Highlanders at Eden Park on Saturday kick-off 7.35pm is: Charles Piutau, Frank Halai, Jackson Willison, Ma'a Nonu, George Moala, Simon Hickey, Bryn Hall, Steven Luatua, Luke Braid, Jerome Kaino, Hayden Triggs, Liaki Moli, Charlie Faumuina, Tom McCartney, Tony Woodcock. Reserves: James Parsons, Ofa Tu'ungafasi, Angus Ta'avao, Tom Donnelly, Peter Saili, Sonatane Takulua, Pita Ahki, Benji Marshall.

- APNZ

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