Wynne Gray

Wynne Gray is a Herald columnist

Rugby: Moala raring to go against Waratahs

George Moala.  Photo / NZPA
George Moala. Photo / NZPA

Professional rugby has been a messy ride for George Moala.

The Blues wing damaged a shoulder early last year and when recovered, broke his right leg in the ITM Cup series.

Five months on he is ready for a return after surviving the gruelling pre-season fitness regimes the Blues set themselves for their first season under John Kirwan's command.

The 22-year-old Moala has been picked for the squad's second trial match tomorrow against the Waratahs in Whangarei.

"It's been much harder than last year, we have done heaps of running," said Moala.

He had never seen Kirwan play live, only on YouTube clips, but was grateful for the tuition he was getting from the All Black great.

"He's just told me he believes in me and to express myself."

Moala will get half a game to do that as captain Ali Williams returns from his off-season to lead the side.

"This is going to be the first real test. You can only really judge a captain by what happens on the field," said Williams.

Rene Ranger will kit up for his first outing this season while Chris Noakes will get a turn at first five-eighths against a Waratahs side who had a strong performance in their opening trial last week.

The Blues trained yesterday then travelled north to complete some promotional activities. Only fullback Charles Piutau and midfield back Jackson Willison have been sidelined because of injury though both are likely to be available for the final hit-out against the Highlanders.

Blues: Albert Nikoro, George Moala, Rene Ranger, Francis Saili, Lolagi Visinia, Chris Noakes, Bryn Hall, Peter Saili, Luke Braid, Steven Luatua, Ali Williams (c), Liaki Moli, Angus Ta'avao, Quentin MacDonald, Tom McCartney. Reserves: James Parsons, Tim Perry, Culum Retallick, Brendon O'Connor, Charlie Faumuina, Ronald Raaymakers, Kane Barrett, Jamison Gibson-Park, Malakai Fekitoa, Marty McKenzie, Baden Kerr, Waisake Naholo, Frank Halai.Wynne Gray

- NZ Herald

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