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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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