Patrick McKendry

Patrick McKendry is a rugby writer for the Herald.

Rugby: Mid-week gives Blues a test run

Frank Halai of the Blues. Photo / Getty Images
Frank Halai of the Blues. Photo / Getty Images

For Sir John Kirwan, mid-week matches against international sides are the heart and soul of the game and his Blues team get a chance to make names for themselves against France tonight at North Harbour Stadium.

"I'm expecting our guys to get out there and really take an opportunity," Kirwan said. "The All Blacks playing Munster, the Lions playing the Force and the Reds and now the French playing the Blues. I think it's where rugby needs to go forward. Get back to some mid-week games. It's good for our guys and it's good for their fringe guys who might not get a test match."

With Super Rugby on hold for the June internationals, Kirwan had organised a match against the Hurricanes, but quickly cancelled it when he received a better offer.

Only Maxime Medard will back up from the French side which started in Saturday's test. Medard started on the left wing in that match and has been named at fullback tonight. An ankle injury ruled flanker Fulgence Ouedraogo out of the tour. Yannick Nyanga will start.

Blues v France
North Harbour Stadium, 7.05 tonight

Blues:
15 Marty McKenzie, 14 Frank Halai, 13 Malakai Fekitoa, 12 Jackson Willison, 11 George Moala, 10 Baden Kerr, 9 J Gibson-Park, 8 Peter Saili, 7 Brendon O'Connor, 6 Kane Barrett, 5 Culum Retallick, 4 Anthony Boric, 3 Ofa Tu'ungafasi, 2 James Parsons (c), 1 Sam Prattley.16 Quentin MacDonald, 17 Angus Ta'avao, 18 Liaki Moli, 19 Ronald Raaymakers, 20 Sean Polwart, 21 Chris Noakes, 22 Tevita Li, 23 Wayne Ngaluafe.

France:
15 Maxime Medard, 14 Noa Nakaitaci, 13 Gael Fickou, 12 Maxime Mermoz, 11 Marc Andreu, 10 Remi Tales, 9 Jean M Doussain, 8 Antonie Claassen, 7 Bernard le Roux, 6 Yannick Nyanga, 5 A Flanquart, 4 C Samson, 3 Nicolas Mas, 2 Guilhem Guirado, 1 Eddy Ben Arous. 16 Benjamin Kayser, 17 Vincent Debaty, 18 Daniel Kotze, 19 Sebastien Vahaamahina, 20 Damien Chouly, 21 Frederic Michalak, 22 Camille Lopez, 23 Brice Dulin.

- APNZ

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