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Blues v Brumbies - Super Rugby match preview
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Sir John Kirwan has made two changes to his Blues side ahead of Saturday's Super Rugby clash with the Brumbies in Auckland.
Flanker Steven Luatua has been ruled out having sustained a neck injury during last week's 23-3 defeat at the hands of the Crusaders.
The 22-year-old will be replaced by Brendan O'Connor, who is promoted from the bench to start at blindside flanker, while prop Angus Ta'avao faces a late fitness test on a knee injury with Sam Prattley named as cover.
In the backs, Francis Saili has been preferred to Jackson Willison at inside centre as the Blues look to keep their play-off hopes alive.
Meanwhile the third-placed Brumbies have named one change to their squad which lost to the Waratahs last time out.
George Smith is unavailable having suffered a medial ligament injury during fixture which saw the Brumbies lose 28-22.
The absence of Smith allows Colby Faingaa to start at openside flanker while Jordan Smiler is added to Jake White's replacements.
Centres Pat McCabe and Clyde Rathbone have both recovered from their respective injuries to make the Brumbies bench for the round 15 tie.
Blues: 15 Charles Piutau, 14 Frank Halai, 13 Rene Ranger, 12 Francis Saili, 11 George Moala, 10 Chris Noakes, 9 Piri Weepu, 8 Peter Saili, 7 Luke Braid, 6 Brendon O'Connor, 5 Ali Williams (capt), 4 Culum Retallick, 3 Angus Ta'avao/Sam Prattley, 2 Keven Mealamu, 1 Tim Perry.
Replacements: 16 James Parsons, 17 Sam Prattley/Ofa Tu'ungafasi, 18 Anthony Boric, 19 Kane Barrett, 20 Jamison Gibson-Park, 21 Baden Kerr, 22 Jackson Willison.
Brumbies: 15 Jesse Mogg, 14 Henry Speight, 13 Tevita Kuridrani, 12 Christian Lealiifano, 11 Joe Tomane, 10 Matt Toomua, 9 Nic White, 8 Ben Mowen (capt), 7 Colby Faingaa, 6 Peter Kimlin, 5 Sam Carter, 4 Scott Fardy, 3 Ben Alexander, 2 Stephen Moore, 1 Scott Sio.
Replacements: 16 Siliva Siliva, 17 Ruan Smith, 18 Fotu Auelua, 19 Jordan Smiler, 20 Ian Prior, 21 Robbie Coleman, 22 Clyde Rathbone.
What they said...
Blues head coach Sir John Kirwan
"I think Francis [Saili] brought a real excitement to the game last week when he came on.
"We need him to step up with his vision and his verbals, looking up and making the right calls but if he can bring his excitement and footwork then we'll be really happy."
Brumbies head coach Jake White
"The players are aware of how important a win in Auckland is for the club heading into the tail end of the season and we will be working hard to regain some of the momentum we had in the early parts of the season."
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