Blues name five All Blacks for Chiefs trial
February 12, 2014
Benji Marshall will remain at No.10 while Piri Weepu will start at halfback for his first game © Getty Images
Faumuina and Luatua will be integrated back into the team and join fellow All Black teammates Francis Saili, Frank Halai and Charles Piutau in the starting XV, while Weepu has recovered from knee surgery in the off-season to start at halfback. The trio are expected to get through 40 minutes of work before being substituted in the second half.
"It has been difficult for the All Blacks that have come in late. We're just trying to get them into some contact and get them back playing," Blues coach Sir John Kirwan said.
"I think we'll see similar to what we saw from Francis and Charles last week in their first game back, just getting out there and having a hit around and we'll then expect a bit more from them the week after."
Kirwan said Faumuina, Luatua and Weepu were chomping at the bit to return to action and that he'd had to curb their enthusiasm.
"They can't wait but we've been holding them back a wee bit," Kirwan said. "It's been more about their health than anything else, especially the younger guys like Steven. He's really keen to go and I know Charlie is excited too; he's in our leadership group so he can't wait.
"Piri is obviously keen to play, he's just one of those guys who loves playing so I think he'll also be ready."
Benji Marshall will continue in the number 10 jersey while George Moala has been named at centre for the third successive week, with Kirwan impressed by his development.
"I think George is going to have a special year," Kirwan said. "He's a centre / wing cover and he is playing centre and we're going to keep playing him there so he gets used to that role. I'm also very happy with Albert Nikoro at fullback, I think he's coming along really well.
"Lolagi is getting better every week so from a combination point of view we need to make sure we've got a full squad and we can cover something if it happens and I'm feeling confident that those guys can do that."
After a disappointing 33-12 loss to the Waratahs in Sydney last week, Kirwan said he was expecting to see a marked improvement against the back-to-back Super Rugby champions on Friday night.
"It was a good hit-out for us last week, the Waratahs were better organised so this week I just want to see our organisation coming into it and really just a bit more zing. It should be a bit more game-like, we've got to start preparing mentally as well. The pre-season is over - this is our final trial and we just need to make sure that we come out of it with confidence to start the season.
"I'm not worried about the result but it would be good to play well and walk off the field knowing we're ready to go for the year."
Blues: Sam Prattley, James Parsons, Charlie Faumuina, Liaki Moli, Tom Donnelly, Steven Luatua, Luke Braid, Peter Saili, Piri Weepu, Benji Marshall, Lolagi Visinia, Francis Saili, George Moala, Frank Halai, Charles Piutau, Ofa Tu'ungafasi, Greg Pleasants-Tate, Tom McCartney, Angus Ta'avao, William Lloyd, Patrick Tuipulotu, Kane Barrett, Jordan Manihera, Brendon O'Connor, Bryn Hall, Chris Noakes, Simon Hickey, Jackson Willison, Tevita Li, Albert Nikoro
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd
Communication error please reload the page.
A Robbie Henshaw try and a nerveless kicking performance from Jonny Sexton ensured Ireland kicked England's Grand Slam aspirations into touch in Dublin
Wasps continued their impressive Premiership record at the Ricoh Arena as they downed Gloucester 32-21 to claim a fourth maximum points victory of the season
Brendan Rodgers hailed Philippe Coutinho as "a joy to watch" after the midfielder scored a spectacular winner against Manchester City and claimed it is "frightening" to think what the Brazilian could be worth
Manuel Pellegrini insisted Manchester City's title challenge is not over after defeat to Liverpool but admitted it is getting more difficult for them to retain their crown
Adam Lallana insists Liverpool will "go far" with players like Philippe Coutinho after the Brazilian's brilliant winner spurred them to victory against Manchester City on Sunday
With the World Cup only a few months away, the last thing France needed was doubts over the future of their coach, writes Huw Richards
They came to Murrayfield looking to put down a marker, but Scotland were sent home with their tails between their legs, writes Tristan Barclay
In the latest edition of ESPN's Week in Words, Olivier Giroud gets emotional, Dimitar Berbatov is a bit smug, Arsene Wenger is hurting and Rory McIlroy is "p***** off"
ESPN sat down with Toro Rosso rookie Carlos Sainz in Barcelona to talk his rookie year, escaping his famous father's shadow and the step up to the big league in 2015
Kempton Park and which other course have a race named after Desert Orchid?
Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers says Daniel Sturridge's fitness must be managed properly so that the striker "doesn't break"
Ander Herrera wishes he could play every game for Manchester United but manager Louis van Gaal's "philosophy" will ultimately restrict his match time
Manchester United goalkeeper David de Gea has dismissed speculation he has fallen out with manager Louis van Gaal
Louis van Gaal admits Manchester United have fallen behind Chelsea and Manchester City this season because they have lacked a prolific goalscorer
Referee Roger East has told the body responsible for officiating standards in English football it was not a case of mistaken identity when he sent off Sunderland's Wes Brown at Manchester United
The PGA Tour swings into Los Angeles for the Northern Trust Open and the season steps up a gear with some notable names coming out of winter hibernation
An honest England side have been searching for the heir to Jason Robinson for nearly a decade. Step forward Jonathan Joseph, writes Simon Barnes
We rewind to 2003 when Real Madrid brought a park attitude to their Champions League clash with Manchester United and played out a 4-3 thriller
Chris Eubank Jr tells Inside Boxing of his hopes of a rematch with Billy Joe Saunders - and a dream showdown with the formidable Gennady Golovkin
Piers Morgan has declared himself "hurt" over former Arsenal goalkeeper Bob Wilson's claims that he is not an authentic fan of the club