Rugby: Braids back to bolster Blues

The Braid brothers in action against the Bulls. Photo / AP
The Braid brothers in action against the Bulls. Photo / AP

The Braid brothers, Daniel and Luke, make a welcome return to the Blues' starting line-up to meet the Sharks in Auckland on Friday, with the loose-forward duo pairing up for the first time in a month.

Daniel was forced to withdraw from the team during the pre-match warm-up last week due to illness and Luke has been sitting out a three-week suspension incurred during the Stormers match in South Africa.

"It's good to have both Braid brothers returning. Luke's work ethic and experience at the breakdown working alongside Dan is crucial to our game," Blues coach Pat Lam said.

Young Auckland lock Liaki Moli has earned his first start of the season, having recovered from illness last week that saw him sit out most of the match on the bench.

"Liaki and Filo Paulo have taken their opportunities when on the field. They provide fresh legs and energy and deserve their starting spots. Ali has started every game so far - this week he'll come off the bench."

Another rookie gets his place in the starting XV as Hadleigh Parkes has been named on the right wing.

"Hadleigh has been in the 22 for a number of weeks. He is a real workhorse with a good boot on him and will give everything for the team out there. He's thrilled to be starting and will bring plenty of energy to what's going to be a very tough encounter," Lam said.

The out-of-shape Piri Weepu remains on the bench.

Blues team: Rudi Wulf, Hadleigh Parkes, Benson Stanley, Ma'a Nonu, Rene Ranger, Gareth Anscombe, Alby Mathewson; Chris Lowrey, Daniel Braid, Luke Braid, Filo Paulo, Liaki Moli, Charlie Faumuina, Keven Mealamu, Tony Woodcock. Reserves: Tom McCartney, Tevita Mailau, Ali Williams, Peter Saili, Piri Weepu, Michael Hobbs, George Moala

- APNZ

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