Wynne Gray

Wynne Gray is a Herald columnist

Rugby: Halai to make Blues debut

Former national sevens rep Frank Halai will suit up for the Blues for the first time on the right wing this weekend. Photo / Greg Bowker.
Former national sevens rep Frank Halai will suit up for the Blues for the first time on the right wing this weekend. Photo / Greg Bowker.

The Blues have a very fresh look but just one Super 15 debut player in their opening selection to test the Hurricanes tomorrow in Wellington.

Former national sevens rep Frank Halai will suit up at this level of rugby for the first time on the right wing where he will duel with last year's All Black sensation Julian Savea.

Former Highlander Chris Noakes has edged out Baden Kerr for the crucial first five eighths role and Culum Retallick will partner captain Ali Williams in the second row.
The experience of Noakes and Retallick has probably given them the edge for this match ahead of the younger challenge from Kerr and Liaki Moli.

The backline promises an attacking edge with fullback Charles Piutau fit after his foot troubles and the explosive Rene Ranger asked to make his impact at centre.

Perhaps the greatest intrigue in the side will be the frontrow production where All Black unavailability has hit the squad.

Last year's skipper Keven Mealamu is on extended leave and when Tony Woodcock decided to shift his loosehead experience to the Highlanders, John Kirwan and his staff were left with few replacements.

Harbour hooker James Parsons has beaten Quentin MacDonald for those duties while usual backup Tom McCartney has switched to cover prop. He has played there for his club and occasionally for Auckland but most of his rugby at this level has been as hooking cover fpr Mealamu.

Blues: Charles Piutau, Frank Halai, Rene Ranger, Francis Saili, George Moala, Chris Noakes, Piri Weepu, Peter Saili, Luke Braid, Steven Luatua, Ali Williams (c), Culum Retallick, Charlie Faumuina, James Parsons, Tom McCartney. Reserves: Jackson Willison, Baden Kerr, Bryn Hall, Brendon O'Connor, Liaki Moli, Angus Ta'avao, Quentin MacDonald.

- NZ Herald

Stats provided by

© Copyright 2014, APN New Zealand Limited

Assembled by: (static) on red akl_n4 at 20 Sep 2014 14:12:47 Processing Time: 480ms