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  • Super Rugby
  • Overall Group
  • 29th Mar 2014
  • KO 06:35
  • Ground: Eden Park, Auckland

Super Rugby: Blues v Highlanders preview

Last updated: 28th March 2014  

jarrad hoeata highlanders

Jarrad Hoeata: Partners Brad Thorn in the Highlanders' second row

Ma a Nonu Blues SR 2012

Ma'a Nonu: Will be back in the home team's midfield this weekend

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Ma'a Nonu, Jerome Kaino and Hayden Triggs all start for the Blues on Saturday when they host the Highlanders at Eden Park, live on Sky Sports.

The trio were all on the bench for the 40-30 victory over the Cheetahs last week but have been drafted in by head coach John Kirwan for the all-New Zealand Conference battle.

The return of All Blacks duo Nonu and Kaino to the first XV is a welcome boost for the hosts, with Kirwan always planning to use the pair in the home fixture.

"They're two World Cup winning All Blacks and it was part of the plan to get them out there against the Cheetahs last week and get them on the football field from the first whistle against the Highlanders," he said.

"I like the intensity they bring around the place and I like the way they go about their business. They're a bit uncompromising which is what we need against the Highlanders on Saturday."

Triggs earns his first start ahead of Tom Donnelly in the second row, while Tom McCartney gets the nod at hooker in place of James Parsons.

Sore foot

Peter Saili who has had a sore foot and been unable to take full part in training so Steven Luatua shifts to number eight and Kaino is in at blindside flanker.

Nonu's return means Jackson Willison shifts across to outside centre and George Moala moves to the wing. Tevita Li drops out of the matchday squad completely.

The Highlanders head on their travels looking to build on their 35-31 triumph over the Hurricanes at Forsyth Barr Stadium, a result that ended a two-match losing run.

They have made three changes to their line-up; Jarrad Hoeata comes into the second-row to partner Brad Thorn, with Chris King and Ged Robinson selected in the front-row.

There is also one alteration on the bench, prop Craig Millar taking the place of Matias Diaz amongst the list of replacements.

Blues: 15 Piutau, 14 Halai, 13 Willison, 12 Nonu, 11 Moala, 10 Hickey, 9 Hall; 1 Woodcock, 2 McCartney, 3 Faumuina, 4 Moli, 5 Triggs, 6 Kaino, 7 Braid, 8 Luatua

Replacements: 16 Parsons, 17 Tu'ungafasi, 18 Ta'avao, 19 Donnelly, 20 Saili, 21 Takulua, 22 Ahki, 23 Marshall

Highlanders: 15 Smith, 14 Buckman, 13 Fekitoa, 12 Burleigh, 11 Osborne, 10 Sopoaga, 9 Smith; 1 Kane Hames, 2 Ged Robinson, 3 Chris King, 4 Brad Thorn, 5 Jarrad Hoeata, 6 Elliot Dixon, 7 Shane Christie, 8 Manu

Replacements: 16 Coltman, 17 Millar, 18 Fia, 19 Wheeler, 20 Ioane, 21 Tanaka, 22 Parker, 23 Treeby.

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06:35Chiefs vs Highlanders
08:40Brumbies vs Western Force
Saturday 7th March
06:35Blues vs Lions
08:40Reds vs Waratahs
15:05Cheetahs vs Bulls
17:10Stormers vs Sharks
Friday 13th March
06:35Hurricanes vs Blues
11:00Western Force vs Melbourne Rebels
Saturday 14th March
03:30Crusaders vs Lions
06:35Highlanders vs Waratahs
08:40Reds vs Brumbies
13:00Stormers vs Chiefs
15:05Cheetahs vs Sharks
Friday 20th March
06:35Highlanders vs Hurricanes
08:40Melbourne Rebels vs Lions
Saturday 21st March
06:35Crusaders vs Cheetahs
15:05Bulls vs Western Force
17:10Sharks vs Chiefs
Sunday 22nd March
05:05Waratahs vs Brumbies
Friday 27th March
06:35Hurricanes vs Melbourne Rebels
09:00Reds vs Lions
Saturday 28th March
05:30Chiefs vs Cheetahs
06:35Highlanders vs Stormers
08:40Waratahs vs Blues
15:05Sharks vs Western Force

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Phil Edwards

Phil Edwards

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