Wynne Gray is a Herald columnist

Rugby: Blues forced to make changes

Injury and suspension have caused the only changes to the Blues for their Super 15 rematch with the Hurricanes.

When the sides met in the opening round of this year's competition, George Moala started on the left wing while Charlie Faumuina began at tighthead prop.

Moala has been suspended for a week after last week's hit on Buxton Popoali'i and Faumuina has been invalided out of the competition after snapping his right calf muscle.

The rest who began the Blues campaign with a 34-20 victory against the 'Canes, remain although there have been several positional shuffles.

Francis Saili and Rene Ranger have each moved out a place to accommodate Jackson Willison at second five eighths and deal with Moala's absence.

The other alteration from the initial victory in Wellington has Angus Ta'avao taking over at tighthead prop while Tom McCartney, who missed last week's win against the Highlanders, has been restored to the loosehead side of the scrum.

All Black hooker and former franchise captain Keven Mealamu will be used from the bench as coach John Kirwan looks to gradually reintroduce the tight forward after his time out of the game.

Utility back Albert Nikoro moves onto the reserve bench after recovering from his shoulder injury.

Meanwhile the Hurricanes continue to deal with a sizeable roster of unavailable players which includes Victor Vito, Jeremy Thrush, Dane Coles and Karl Lowe.

They have switched regular five eighths Beauden Barrett to fullback after his defensive difficulties were exposed by the Waratahs last week and picked Tusi Pisi to organize the backline.

Blues: Charles Piutau, Frank Halai, Francis Saili, Jackson Willison, Rene Ranger, Chris Noakes, Piri Weepu, Peter Saili, Luke Braid, Steven Luatua, Ali Williams ©, Calum Retallick, Angus Ta'avao, James Parsons, Tom McCartney. Reserves: Keven Mealamu, Ofa Tu'ungafasi, Anthony Boric, Brendon O'Connor, Jamison Gibson-Park, Baden Kerr, Albert Nikoro.

- NZ Herald

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