All the action from the first Kiwi derby of the Super Rugby season, as the Highlanders host the Blues.

The first time Sonny Bill Williams touched the ball in the Blues' pre-season match against the Hurricanes at a sweltering Warkworth last week, he got his long right arm free and attempted an offload.

Unfortunately for him and the Blues, his support player over-ran the pass slightly, and Williams, with a clear plan for unlocking the notoriously fast-rushing Hurricanes' defence, passed anyway.

It went forward — a Hurricanes' scrum on halfway the result — but it didn't deter Williams from trying it again for the rest of the 40 minutes he played. That attacking intent is crucial for the Blues in Dunedin tonight.


The Highlanders, under new coach Aaron Mauger, will rush forward too and they will attack No10 Bryn Gatland in an attempt to take away time and space from relatively inexperienced 22-year-old.

Gatland, described as "steady" by coach Tana Umaga after being named in the season-opener, hasn't got the attacking ability of the injured Stephen Perofeta.

He has a good kicking game and does the basics well. He also has amazing composure as anyone who watched him play for the NZ Provincial Barbarians against the British and Irish Lions last year will attest, but his ability to beat defenders through pace and footwork at this level remains a work in progress and it is here that then men around him, particularly Williams, with his Inspector Gadget telescopic arms, is key.

The offload is the hardest thing to defend in rugby and there are few better at the skill than the Blues and All Blacks second five.

Halfback and new skipper Augustine Pulu obviously has a big role to play at Forsyth Barr Stadium, and so does centre George Moala and left wing Rieko Ioane, who is likely to test the Hurricanes' defence with his pace by running close to the set piece or ruck.