Rugby: Blues name young side to face France

Blues hooker James Parsons. Photo / Getty Images
Blues hooker James Parsons. Photo / Getty Images

Hooker James Parsons will captain a young Blues outfit against France at North Harbour Stadium on Tuesday night.

Parsons will lead the Blues for the first time in the absence of Ali Williams and Luke Braid, who are both being rested.

The Blues will also be missing Keven Mealamu, Steven Luatua, Piri Weepu, Rene Ranger, Francis Saili and Charles Piutau, who are on All Blacks duty, which opens the door for newcomers in 20-year-old centre Malakai Fekitoa and schoolboy Tevita Li.

It will be the first time a New Zealand Super Rugby franchise has played an international team, and Blues head coach Sir John Kirwan said it's a good chance to test some new blood during the Super 15 break.

"I think it's an incredible opportunity for us to play some players who haven't had much of a chance and just really get those boys out there with no real pressure except playing a great international side and having the opportunity to express themselves,'' Kirwan said.

"I'd love to play the best possible side we can but we have our All Blacks away and some guys really deserve a chance.

"We have to compete and we have to play well otherwise these games won't be put in the schedules and I think we all like them. I'm really excited about it.''

There is a special place in Kirwan's heart for the French. He played his first All Black test against them, played his record breaking 63rd test against them and also marked current French coach Philippe Saint-Andre.

Kirwan was unsure what to expect from the French but knew his side would be in for a challenge.

"I don't know because you never know what to expect against the French the way they play. I'm expecting a strong team because I think some of the players who played in the club final can't play in the first test because they haven't been able to train so I'm expecting a French rugby team that will express themselves a bit more without too much pressure.''

The Blues team to face France at North Harbour Stadium on Tuesday (7.05pm): Marty McKenzie, Frank Halai, Malakai Fekitoa, Jackson Willison, George Moala, Baden Kerr, Jamison Gibson-Park, Peter Saili, Brendon O'Connor, Kane Barrett, Culum Retallick, Anthony Boric, Ofa Tu'ungafasi, James Parsons (c), Sam Prattley. Reserves: Quentin MacDonald, Angus Ta'avao, Liaki Moli, Ronald Raaymakers, Sean Polwart, Chris Noakes, Tevita Li, Wayne Ngaluafe.

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