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Blues v Hurricanes - Super Rugby match preview
The Blues have made two changes for Saturday's clash with the Hurricanes in Auckland.
Sir John Kirwan has handed starts to Francis Saili and Tom McCartney following the win over the Highlanders.
Saili starts at outside centre, with Rene Ranger shifting to the wing as George Moala has been banned for a week. McCartney replaces Tim Perry at loosehead prop.
The Hurricanes will hand a first start to Samoa international fly-half Tusi Pisi for the trip to Eden Park.
Pisi's inclusion sees Beauden Barrett shifts to full-back in the place of Andre Taylor, who drops to the bench.
Ben Franks is poised to return at loosehead although the All Blacks prop must first pass a fitness test after struggling with a back injury.
Dane Coles is also bracketed on the bench with Ash Dixon for the reserve hooker jersey.
Blues: 15 Charles Piutau, 14 Frank Halai, 13 Francis Saili, 12 Jackson Willison, 11 Rene Ranger, 10 Chris Noakes, 9 Piri Weepu, 8 Peter Saili, 7 Luke Braid, 6 Steven Luatua, 5 Ali Williams (c), 4 Culum Retallick, 3 Angus Ta'avao, 2 James Parsons, 1 Tom McCartney.
Replacements: 16 Keven Mealamu, 17 Ofa Tu'ungafasi, 18 Anthony Boric, 19 Brendon O'Connor, 20 Jamison Gibson-Park, 21 Baden Kerr, 22 Albert Nikoro.
Hurricanes: 15 Beauden Barrett, 14 Alapati Leiua, 13 Conrad Smith (c), 12 Tim Bateman, 11 Julian Savea, 10 Tusi Pisi, 9 TJ Perenara , 8 Faifili Levave, 7 Ardie Savea, 6 Brad Shields, 5 Jason Eaton, 4 Mark Reddish, 3 Ben May, 2 Motu Matu'u, 1 Ben Franks / Reggie Goodes.
Replacements: 16 Dane Coles / Ash Dixon, 17 Jeffery Toomaga-Allen, 18 James Broadhurst, 19 Jack Lam, 20 Chris Smylie, 21 Reynold Lee-Lo, 22 Andre Taylor.
What they said...
Blues boss Sir John Kirwan
"It's must-win every week. I keep hearing that from my children on Mondays saying 'you've got to win this week dad' and that's just the nature of this competition.
"When you talk about the conference this is a big one. The Hurricanes have improved, I'd like to think we've improved and they're one point ahead of us on the table so she's all on."
Hurricanes assistant coach Alama Ieremia
"Tusi offers another style of attack with his versatility as a 10, 12 and 15 for us this weekend.
"Beauden is experienced at full-back and having him in this position gives us another option. He has moved between first five and full-back this season when the bench has been introduced, so it is an opportunity to give those combinations more game time."
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|Friday 6th March|
|06:35||Chiefs vs Highlanders|
|08:40||Brumbies vs Western Force|
|Saturday 7th March|
|06:35||Blues vs Lions|
|08:40||Reds vs Waratahs|
|15:05||Cheetahs vs Bulls|
|17:10||Stormers vs Sharks|
|Friday 13th March|
|06:35||Hurricanes vs Blues|
|11:00||Western Force vs Melbourne Rebels|
|Saturday 14th March|
|03:30||Crusaders vs Lions|
|06:35||Highlanders vs Waratahs|
|08:40||Reds vs Brumbies|
|13:00||Stormers vs Chiefs|
|15:05||Cheetahs vs Sharks|
|Friday 20th March|
|06:35||Highlanders vs Hurricanes|
|08:40||Melbourne Rebels vs Lions|
|Saturday 21st March|
|06:35||Crusaders vs Cheetahs|
|15:05||Bulls vs Western Force|
|17:10||Sharks vs Chiefs|
|Sunday 22nd March|
|05:05||Waratahs vs Brumbies|
|Friday 27th March|
|06:35||Hurricanes vs Melbourne Rebels|
|09:00||Reds vs Lions|
|Saturday 28th March|
|05:30||Chiefs vs Cheetahs|
|06:35||Highlanders vs Stormers|
|08:40||Waratahs vs Blues|
|15:05||Sharks vs Western Force|
|Saturday 28th February|
|Lions 19 - 22 Stormers|
|Bulls 43 - 35 Sharks|
|Melbourne Rebels 15 - 20 Brumbies|
|Chiefs 40 - 16 Crusaders|
|Friday 27th February|
|Cheetahs 25 - 24 Blues|
|Western Force 13 - 42 Hurricanes|
|Highlanders 20 - 13 Reds|
|Saturday 21st February|
|Sharks 29 - 12 Lions|
|Stormers 27 - 16 Blues|
|Reds 18 - 6 Western Force|
|Highlanders 20 - 26 Crusaders|
|Friday 20th February|
|Bulls 13 - 17 Hurricanes|
|Melbourne Rebels 28 - 38 Waratahs|
|Chiefs 19 - 17 Brumbies|
|Sunday 15th February|
|Waratahs 13 - 25 Western Force|
|Saturday 14th February|
|Bulls 17 - 29 Stormers|
|Sharks 29 - 35 Cheetahs|
|Blues 18 - 23 Chiefs|
|Friday 13th February|
|Lions 8 - 22 Hurricanes|
|Brumbies 47 - 3 Reds|
|Crusaders 10 - 20 Melbourne Rebels|
Read the thoughts and opinions of Phil Edwards with skysports.com