Wynne Gray

Wynne Gray is a Herald columnist

Rugby: Perry to face biggest test

Rookie Blues prop Tim Perry will suit up against the Crusaders for the biggest challenge of his fledgling Super 15 career. Photo / Dean Purcell.
Rookie Blues prop Tim Perry will suit up against the Crusaders for the biggest challenge of his fledgling Super 15 career. Photo / Dean Purcell.

Rookie Blues prop Tim Perry will suit up against the Crusaders for the biggest challenge of his fledgling Super 15 career.

The 24-year-old loosehead, who was a surprise pick this season for the Blues, has been chosen for just his fourth start on Saturday against the near-test pack of the Crusaders.

Perry has taken over from converted hooker Tom McCartney, who has packed down in seven games for the Blues this season in the No 1 jersey.

However, Perry's set-piece impact last week against the Rebels - when he also dealt with a broken nose - has encouraged the selectors to pitch him in against familiar foes this weekend.

Perry hails from Ashburton and spent his first year out of school in the Canterbury academy before drifting away from the sport. After a few seasons he hankered for a return and played his way into the Blues with his work last season for Tasman.

His personal measurement this weekend will come against All Black Owen Franks while the Blues pack will all be under the blowtorch from their hosts.

Another of Perry's Tasman teammates and now Auckland prop Sam Prattley has been called into the reserves for his first taste of Super 15.

Experienced hooker Keven Mealamu has scrubbed up for his return to the starting side but his deputy James Parsons is still troubled by a neck problem and Quenton MacDonald will be on the reserves bench.

Former Chiefs midfield back Jackson Willison has sneaked in ahead of Francis Saili in the sole backline change for this match.

The Blues and Crusaders have both won six matches and lost four this season with the Blues bonus points giving them a three point buffer on their rivals.

When the sides met in the second round this year, the Blues had beaten the Hurricanes 34-20 to start the series while the Crusaders had a bye. They had not long assembled with their All Blacks and were well beaten 34-15 in a five tries to none blitz by the Blues.

Three months on, the AMI Stadium rematch in Addington will deliver stronger theories about the players as the Super 15 heads towards the crunch part of the series and the All Blacks get ready for their June test series.

Blues: Charles Piutau, Frank Halai, Rene Ranger, Jackson Willison, George Moala, Chris Noakes, Piri Weepu, Peter Saili, Luke Braid, Steven Luatua, Ali Williams (c), Culum Retallick, Angus Ta'avao, Keven Mealamu, Tim Perry. Reserves: Quenton MacDonald, Sam Prattley, Anthony Boric, Brendon O'Connor, Jamison Gibson-Park, Baden Kerr, Francis Saili.

- NZ Herald

Stats provided by

© Copyright 2014, APN New Zealand Limited

Assembled by: (static) on red akl_a2 at 24 Sep 2014 02:52:47 Processing Time: 612ms