Anthony Boric has been given the all-clear to resume playing after another neck injury and has been named on the Blues reserves bench to play the Stormers on Friday night.
The former All Blacks lock, who will leave to play club rugby in Japan after the Super Rugby season, yesterday (Tues) received the good news following a scan. He had surgery on his neck last year and was out for most of the season which meant his latest knock was a real concern.
"It would be a nervous time for anyone,'' coach Sir John Kirwan said. "He was a bit concerned. He took a bit of a knock on it a few weeks ago and needed to get it checked and he has and he's fit and available so that's great.''
Hooker James Parsons is another to receive good news regarding a neck problem, although he won't play for the next couple of weeks, Keven Mealamu getting an opportunity to reclaim the No2 jersey.
"We were a bit concerned because he has some history there,'' Kirwan said. "The last time it happened he was out for 10 weeks but this is not related. It's a similar area and he'll probably be all right in a week but to be cautious we'll probably take a couple of weeks with him.''
Kirwan has made three changes to the starting XV which lost to the Reds 12-11 in Brisbane last weekend. Mealamu is the only change to the pack, with Francis Saili starting at centre after being dropped to the reserves last week for a protocol breach. He partners Jackson Willison in midfield, with Rene Ranger moving from centre to the left wing where he replaces Albert Nikoro.
Lolagi Visinia, who will cover wing and fullback, joins the match-day squad for the first time.
"He's one of the young crew,'' Kirwan said of 20-year-old Visinia. "Albert was great for us last week and hasn't done anything wrong. We're just picking the side this week which we think will be great for the Stormers and we need to give thise young guys game time and when do you do that? We made a decision as a selection panel that we have to start doing it.''
Blues team to play the Stormers at North Harbour Stadium on Friday, kick-off 7.35pm is: Charles Piutau, Frank Halai, Francis Saili, Jackson Willison, Rene Ranger, Chris Noakes, Piri Weepu, Peter Saili, Luke Braid, Steven Luatua, Ali Williams (c), Culum Retallick, Angus Ta'avao, Keven Mealamu, Tom McCartney. Reserves: Quentin MacDonald, Ofa Tu'ungafasi, Anthony Boric, Brendon O'Connor, Jamison Gibson-Park, Baden Kerr, Lolagi Visinia.