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Rieko Ioane named on the wing, Akira axed for Blues' Super Rugby opener

Rieko Ioane will start on the wing for the Blues in Friday's Super Rugby season opener, as coach Leon MacDonald named a side with six debutants to face the Chiefs at Eden Park.

Rieko Ioane Source: Photosport

Ioane, 22, has been named in the number 11 jersey in his 50th Super Rugby appearance, despite being listed as a midfielder in the Blues' initial 2020 squad.

There was no room however for Ioane's older brother Akira, left out of the matchday 23 entirely.

Elsewhere, England Test representative Joe Marchant will make his debut at centre, partnering TJ Faiane in the midfield.

Hooker Kurt Eklund, loose forward Tony Lamborn and winger Mark Telea make their starting debuts, while Samoa's Ray Niuia and outside back Emoni Narawa will debut from the bench.

Patrick Tuipulotu will lead the side as captain, having previously split the role with Blake Gibson, who is also named on the bench.

Blues: 15. Matt Duffie, 14. Mark Telea, 13. Joe Marchant, 12. TJ Faiane, 11. Rieko Ioane, 10. Stephen Perofeta, 9. Jonathan Ruru, 8. Hoskins Sotutu, 7. Tony Lamborn, 6. Dalton Papalii, 5. Tom Robinson, 4. Patrick Tuipulotu (c), 3. Sione Mafileo, 2. Kurt Eklind, 1. Alex Hodgman.

Reserves: 16. Ray Niuia, 17. Karl Tu'inukuafe, 18. Ofa Tuungafasi, 19. Josh Goodhue, 20. Blake Gibson, 21. Sam Nock, 22. Harry Plummer, 23. Emoni Narawa.