The other all New Zealand clash this weekend is the Blues that will host the Highlanders.
As with most New Zealand derbies we expect another great eighty minutes of rugby when these two teams clash on Saturday morning. The Highlanders will be desperate for a win after losing their opening two matches so far with the Blues to also recover from the huge lost against the Chiefs last week.
The importance of the result can be seen with the Blues naming six All Blacks in the starting XV for the Highlanders match
Parsons and Kaino has been named in the starting lineup which also sees starts for Faumuina and Tuipulotu. We also see Taramai making his Super Rugby debut at number eight on Saturday. Ioane will provide cover from the bench.
In the backs Moala comes in at inside centre and Ranger move to the wing with Francis and Nanai going to the bench.
Parsons will captain the side in his return after suffering from concussion, he completed 40 minutes of action for the Blues Development side last weekend.
Umaga revealed the team has welcomed back their All Blacks who are now ready for starting action.
“Jerome and Patrick had delayed starts while Charlie has worked his way to excellent form, and both George and Rene impressed when they came on last week against the Chiefs,” Umaga said.
“There’s good depth in this squad and so there is going to be times when strong players won’t get starts always.”
For the Highlanders Whitelock and Banks returns from injury to take their place in the team this weekend.
The Highlanders have however lost Squire and Lentjes to injury and Evans will start the match at number six for the Highlanders. Elliot Dixon lead the team from the openside and Whitelock will complete the new look back row at number eight.
Dillon Hunt will cover the loose forwards and make his Super Rugby debut should he take the field. Kayne Hammington and Marty Banks will provide the back cover from the bench.
Head to Head
|Games||Blues wins||Draws||Highlanders wins||Blues points||Highlanders points|
|At home: 14||11||0||3||424||303|
|Average points scored per game||48.85|
Previous Results between these two teams:
|2010-02-19||Highlanders||Blues||15 – 19||Blues|
|2011-04-29||Highlanders||Blues||10 – 15||Blues|
|2011-06-17||Blues||Highlanders||33 – 16||Blues|
|2012-04-20||Highlanders||Blues||30 – 27||Highlanders|
|2012-05-26||Blues||Highlanders||20 – 27||Highlanders|
|2013-04-05||Blues||Highlanders||29 – 18||Blues|
|2013-06-01||Highlanders||Blues||38 – 28||Highlanders|
|2014-02-22||Highlanders||Blues||29 – 21||Highlanders|
|2014-03-29||Blues||Highlanders||30 – 12||Blues|
|2015-04-18||Highlanders||Blues||30 – 24||Highlanders|
|2015-06-12||Blues||Highlanders||7 – 44||Highlanders|
|2016-02-26||Blues||Highlanders||33 – 31||Blues|
Prediction: If one has to go on what we saw in the last two weeks then both sides are evenly match. I give it to the Blues just for the strong finish last week and because they are at home by 9 points
Blues: 15 Michael Collins, 14 Matt Duffie, 13 Rieko Ioane, 12 George Moala, 11 Rene Ranger, 10 Ihaia West, 9 Augustine Pulu, 8 Murphy Taramai, 7 Blake Gibson, 6 Jerome Kaino, 5 Patrick Tuipulotu, 4 Jimmy Tupou, 3 Charlie Faumuina, 2 James Parsons (c), 1 Pauliasi Manu
Replacements: 16 Matt Moulds, 17 Sam Prattley, 18 Ofa Tu’ungafasi, 19 Gerard Cowley-Tuioti, 20 Akira Ioane/Kara Pryor, 21 Billy Guyton, 22 Piers Francis, 23 Melani Nanai
The Highlanders: 15 Richard Buckman, 14 Waisake Naholo, 13 Malakai Fekitoa, 12 Rob Thompson, 11 Tevita Li, 10 Lima Sopoaga, 9 Aaron Smith, 8 Luke Whitelock, 7 Elliot Dixon(c), 6 Gareth Evans, 5 Tom Franklin, 4 Alex Ainley, 3 Siosuia Halanukonuka, 2 Liam Coltman, 1 Daniel Lienert-Brown
Replacemets: 16 Sekonia Pole, 17 Aki Seiuli, 18 Siate Tokolahi, 19 Joe Wheeler, 20 Jackson Hemopo, 21 Dillon Hunt, 22 Kayne Hammington, 23 Marty Banks