Wynne Gray is a Herald columnist

All Blacks: Call up might not do it for Saili

While Francis Saili enjoyed his call-up to an All Black training squad, it looks as though he will have to make his Super 15 mark against the Crusaders from the bench.

There were all sorts of boisterous responses at training yesterday as coach Sir John Kirwan read out the names of eight Blues players named as national training camp picks.

Charles Piutau, Frank Halai, Saili and Steven Luatua will make their first appearances alongside senior colleagues Ali Williams, Keven Mealamu, Piri Weepu and Rene Ranger.

The Blues will wait until tomorrow to announce their side for the heavyweight clash with the Crusaders, but in a very tight decision it seems the Blues will start with Jackson Willison at second five-eighths ahead of the lively Saili.

The Blues picked up 24-year-old Willison after five seasons with the Chiefs, including last year's title run and inclusion in the NZ Maori team.

After a few substitute appearances he started the next four games as the Blues strung together a winning surge. He hurt his ankle against the Stormers and was spelled last week but is being tuned for the midfield battle with the Crusaders.

Test No8 Kieran Read is expected to turn out for the Crusaders after several months reduced activity because of a toe ligament injury, and may job-share this weekend with Luke Whitelock.

After his sharp cameo from the bench against the Rebels, fullback Israel Dagg must be favoured to start. It is the sort of game he should thrive on, especially with Piutau wearing the Blues No15 jersey.

- NZ Herald

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