Rugby: Luatua returns for Blues

Steven Luatua. Photo / Getty Images
Steven Luatua. Photo / Getty Images

Blues loose forward Steven Luatua returns to his team's starting XV for Saturday's match against the Force in Perth.

The 23-year-old blindside flanker has not featured in the run-on side since round 10 against the Hurricanes, but head coach John Kirwan said it was time to give Luatua an opportunity.

"He's been away with the All Blacks and he's come back full of energy and I think he needs an opportunity to push his way back into the side," Kirwan said.

"We all know he's got the ability and he's probably had an average season so far but there's no doubting the quality of the man so I think it's a great opportunity for him to really put his hand up, play well, stay selected with us and then really push for the Rugby Championship side with the All Blacks.

"He's been working really hard with the ABs and he's come back a bit fitter so it's a good chance for him."

Midfielder Francis Saili will make his return from injury via the bench after missing the last four matches with an ankle sprain sustained during training.

The Blues team to face the Western Force at nib Stadium in Perth on Saturday night, kick-off 11.45pm NZT, is: Lolagi Visinia, Frank Halai, Pita Ahki, Ma'a Nonu, George Moala, Ihaia West, Bryn Hall, Jerome Kaino, Luke Braid (c), Steven Luatua, Patrick Tuipulotu, Tom Donnelly, Charlie Faumuina/Angus Ta'avao, Keven Mealamu, Tony Woodcock. Reserves: James Parsons, Angus Ta'avao/Tom McCartney, Ofa Tu'ungafasi, Hayden Triggs, Peter Saili, Piri Weepu, Francis Saili, Tevita Li.

- NZ Herald

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