Rieko Ioane returns to the wing as Blues name side to face Crusaders

Blues coach Tana Umaga has had to make some enforced changes to his side for this weekend's clash with the Crusaders, with a number of surprise selections for the Eden Park showdown.

Young superstar Rieko Ioane switches back to the left wing, taking the place of Caleb Clarke who is left out altogether ahead of the NZ under-20s World Cup campaign. Melani Nani returns on the right hand side of the outside backs trio.

Lock Matiaha Martin will make his debut for the Blues, with Patrick Tuipulotu out injured.

Flanker Dalton Papalii has been bracketed alongside Murphy Taramai, with Umaga giving him as long as possible to prove his fitness.

Fullback Michael Collins will return to the bench, having missed four weeks with a hand injury.

BLUES: 15. Matt Duffie, 14. Melani Nanai, 13. Orbyn Leger, 12. Sonny Bill Williams, 11. Rieko Ioane, 10. Stephen Perofeta, 9. Augustine Pulu (c), 8. Akira Ioane, 7. Dalton Papalii/Murphy Taramai, 6. Jerome Kaino, 5. Matiaha Martin, 4. Gerard Cowley-Tuioti, 3. Ofa Tu'ungafasi. 2. James Parsons, 1. Pauliasi Manu.

Resreves: 16. Matt Moulds, 17. Ross Wright, 18. Sione Mafileo, 19. Ben Nee-Nee, 20. Murphy Taramai/Antonio Kiri Kiri, 21. Jonathan Ruru, 22. Dan Kirpatrick, 23. Michael Collins.

Rieko Ioane of the Blues is tackled by Curwin Bosch of the Sharks. Super Rugby match, Blues v Sharks at Eden Park, Auckland, New Zealand. 31 March 2018 © Copyright Photo: Anthony Au-Yeung / www.photosport.nz
Rieko Ioane. Source: Photosport


Watch: Kieran Read backs Crusaders star Jordan Taufua for All Blacks call up

All Blacks captain Kieran Read threw his support firmly behind Crusaders teammate Jordan Taufua, 26, with the number eight in contention to replace the injured skipper for the upcoming Test series with France next month.

Read, 32, will miss the series, having not recovered from a back injury picked up on the All Blacks' end of year tour last November.

Speaking to media having returned to Crusaders training today, Read spoke highly of the possibility of Taufua being selected for his first All Blacks stint.

"He's been great for us over the last few seasons," he said.

"He's slightly a different player to the traditional number eight or six. He's a great ball carrier and he hits really hard.

"He's been chipping away, and if he gets the chance I'm sure he'll do really well."

The All Blacks' squad for the France series is named on Sunday.

Taufua is an option to replace captain Read for June's series against France. Source: 1 NEWS



Youth approach 'what makes the All Blacks so great' says football legend Ryan Giggs

Football legend Ryan Giggs is crediting All Blacks great Dan Carter with advice over player management, having recently become the head coach of the Wales national team.

Speaking to WalesOnline, Giggs told of a meeting between himself and Carter, where the Manchester United legend picked rugby's all-time leading points scorer's brains over why the All Blacks are such a dominant force in world sport.

"I spoke to Dan Carter a few months ago and he was saying about the New Zealand rugby team and when he was there how he had to look after Beauden Barrett," Giggs said.

"He was after his place, but in New Zealand you have to look after the next generation. I thought it was fantastic that if he didn't, he would have got hammered from the All Blacks media, the fans, and that's just part and parcel of why the All Blacks are so great.

"Even though he's after his place, he still has to guide him and help him along.

"It probably prolonged his career because he still wanted that jersey, but knew he had someone biting at his ankles and wanting to take his place," added Giggs.

"It's very exciting and it gives them (young players) a great chance. That's what I believe in – giving youth a chance. The experienced players are important in that respect too."

Giggs' Wales side are next in action against Mexico in Pasadena on May 29.

Ryan Giggs Source: Associated Press