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Blues veterans to miss Super Rugby opener
February 10, 2014
The Blues' Keven Mealamu fends off the Cheetahs' defence, Blues v Cheetahs, Round 7, Super Rugby, Toll Stadium, Whangarei, New Zealand, April 2, 2011
Tony Woodcock and Keven Mealamu both return to the Blues for the 2014 season, but look to miss out on the season opener © Getty Images
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At least three All Blacks are likely to be missing when the Blues open their Super Rugby campaign against the Highlanders this month.

Coach Sir John Kirwan says Test centurion front-rowers Tony Woodcock and Keven Mealamu won't be considered, as the coaching staff want to ease the veteran pair slowly into the season.

Second five-eighth Ma'a Nonu is also highly doubtful for the game in Dunedin on February 22 as he recovers from off-season ankle surgery. Kirwan told The New Zealand Herald there is a "reintegration plan" for prop Woodcock, 33, and hooker Mealamu, 34.

"Both Kevvy and Woody are travelling really well but we need them to have a good season for us," he said. "That's the plan, to make sure we get this right with the integration. You need a full squad and that's what we're trying to create."

The Blues have lost their first two pre-season games - 38-35 to the Hurricanes and 33-12 to the New South Wales Waratahs. Their last trial game is against the Chiefs in Rotorua on Friday.

© AAP

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