Wynne Gray

Wynne Gray is a Herald columnist

Rugby: Boric returns for the Blues

Former All Black lock Anthony Boric will make his first start for the Blues in 14 months. Photo / Getty Images.
Former All Black lock Anthony Boric will make his first start for the Blues in 14 months. Photo / Getty Images.

Former All Black lock Anthony Boric will make his first start for the Blues in 14 months.

George Moala returns on the left wing, Brendon O'Conner is at openside and Tim Perry at loosehead prop as the Blues juggle their resources for Saturday's duel with the Rebels at Eden Park.

The injury absence of Jackson Willison has meant Rene Ranger returning to his favoured position at centre and Francis Saili shifting into second five eighths.

Veteran hooker Keven Mealamu has not recovered enough from his calf twinge and Gafatasi Su'a comes into the side on the bench.

But the inclusion of Boric will spark most intrigue after another stop-go season for the experienced lock.

Last March he injured his neck against the Bulls in Pretoria and had surgery to repair the damage. He was picked for the Blues this year, passed his warrants of fitness and was reintroduced slowly to the contact areas.

He appeared in four games from the bench but after the game against the Highlanders, Boric complained of further soreness in his neck.

Inspection showed no structural damage and the 29-year-old has been picked to partner captain Ali Williams tomorrow in his first start since last year.

Culum Retallick has been used at lock for all but one game when Liaki Moli started, but his indiscipline, and Ronald Raaymakers inexperience, have opened the way for Boric's return.

While the staff were keen to spell a few weary players, they wanted to avoid some of the pitfalls they encountered when they opted for a similar scheme against the Bulls.

Resting Braid means halfback Piri Weepu, Charles Piutau, Frank Halai, Ranger, Steven Luatua and Williams have been picked to start all 10 games this season.

***

Blues team to face the Rebels at Eden Park on Saturday night:

Charles Piutau, Frank Halai, Rene Ranger, Francis Saili, George Moala, Chris Noakes, Piri Weepu, Peter Saili, Brendon O'Connor, Steven Luatua, Ali Williams (c), Anthony Boric, Angus Ta'avao, Quentin MacDonald, Tim Perry. Reserves: Gafatasi Su'a, Ofa Tu'ungafasi, Ronald Raaymakers, Luke Braid, Jamison Gibson-Park, Baden Kerr, Lolan Visinia.

- NZ Herald

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