SUPER RUGBY Preview : Blues vs Crusaders

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Blues flanker Kara Pryor comes off the bench to make his first start of the season against the Crusaders at Eden Park on Saturday.

Pryor has played nine games this season as a replacement where he has made a considerable impact.

He comes in to the starting line-up to replace Tanerau Latimer who was ruled out with a knee injury. Tonga World Cup representative and Pryor’s fellow Northland player, Jack Ram comes into the reserves for the first time after playing once last year.

It is the only change from the team that beat the Western Force in Perth last weekend.

Japan international Male Sa’u is bracketed at centre with George Moala who is nursing some bumps and bruises after a typically physical clash last weekend. If Moala is ruled out then Michael Little will come on to the bench.

Former Crusader Billy Guyton gets a second straight start at scrum-half with top try scorer Melani Nanai to again start at fullback.

Players not considered with injury include Matt McGahan with a hip injury, Latimer, and longer-term injured players Ben Lam, TJ Faiane, Rene Ranger, Matt Vaega and Blake Gibson.

Crusaders coach Todd Blackadder has made three changes to his side for their clash with the Blues in Auckland this weekend.  

Behemoth wing Nemani Nadolo will be unleashed after coming back from a four-week suspension for a dangerous tackle on Brumbies scrum-half Tomás Cubelli.

Nadolo replaces fellow Fijian international Jone Macilai on the left wing.

Andy Ellis, who got his 150th Super Rugby cap last weekend, is replaced by Mitchell Drummond at scrum-half for the sake of rotation.

The Christchurch team will miss the experience that Sam Whitelock brings to the side as the All Blacks lock sustained a hamstring injury over the weekend.

Scott Barrett comes in for Whitelock and packs down next to Luke Romano in the second row.

Blues: 15 Melani Nanai, 14 Matt Duffie, 13 George Moala/Male Sa’u, 12 Piers Francis, 11 Tevita Li, 10 Ihaia West, 9 Billy Guyton, 8 Steven Luatua, 7 Kara Pryor, 6 Jerome Kaino, 5 Josh Bekhuis, 4 Patrick Tuipulotu, 3 Charlie Faumuina, 2 James Parsons (c), 1 Sam Prattley
Replacements: 16 Quentin MacDonald, 17 Ofa Tu’ungafasi, 18 Sione Mafileo, 19 Hoani Matenga, 20 Jack Ram, 21 Bryn Hall, 22 Male Sa/u/Michael Little, 23 Lolagi Visinia

Crusaders: 15 Israel Dagg, 14 Johnny McNicholl, 13 Kieron Fonotia, 12 Ryan Crotty, 11 Nemani Nadolo, 10 Richie Mo’unga, 9 Mitchell Drummond, 8 Kieran Read (c), 7 Matt Todd, 6 Jordan Taufua, 5 Luke Romano, 4 Scott Barrett, 3 Owen Franks, 2 Codie Taylor, 1 Joe Moody
Replacements: 16 Ged Robinson, 17 Wyatt Crockett, 18 Mike Alaalatoa, 19 Jimmy Tupou, 20 Tim Boys, 21 Andy Ellis, 22 David Havili, 23 Marty McKenzie

Date: Saturday, May 28
Venue: Eden Park, Auckland
Kick-off: 19:35 local (07:35 GMT)
Referee: Angus Gardner
Assistant Referees: Paul Williams, Brendon Pickerill
TMO: Glenn Newman


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