Hurricanes v Blues
Westpac Stadium, Wellington, Saturday 5.35pm (AEDT)
Last meeting: Round 11 2012 - Hurricanes 35 bt Blues 19 at Westpac Stadium
Head-to-head: Played 19 Hurricanes 7 Blues 11 drawn 1
In Wellington: Played 8 Hurricanes 3 Blues 4 drawn 1
Referee: Glen Jackson (NZL)
TV: Live, FoxSports 2
TAB Sportsbet: Hurricanes $1.45 Blues $2.70
Steve Samuelson writes: Under new coach John Kirwan, the Blues boast one of the most unpredictable back lines in the competition but may struggle up front. Can Hurricanes halves Beauden Barrett and TJPerenara overcome second-season blues? Home side to win.
AAP writes: Sir John Kirwan has a big job on his hands to turn around the Blues but if there trial showings are anything to go by he has plenty of raw talent to work with. The Blues scampered over for 11 tries in matches against the Reds and Waratahs and boast some exciting unheralded youngsters. But it’s up to the likes of Piri Weepu, Ali Williams and Luke Braid to lead them with nous.
A hit ... Hurricanes five-eighth Beauden Barrett. Photo: Getty Images
The Hurricanes will miss winger Cory Jane for the season, as well as flanker Ardie Savea for a month, but boast a more settled and experienced side. Young duo Beauden Barrett and TJ Perenara were a hit combination in 2012 and should only improve
HURRICANES: Andre Taylor, Alapati Leiua, Conrad Smith (capt), Tim Bateman, Julian Savea, Beauden Barrett, TJ Perenara, Brad Shields, Karl Lowe, Victor Vito, Jason Eaton, Jeremy Thrush, Ben May, Dane Coles, Ben Franks. Reserves: Ash Dixon, Reggie Goodes, Mark Reddish, Faifili Levave, Chris Smylie, James Marshall, Reynold Lee-Lo.
BLUES: Charles Piutau, Frank Halai, Rene Ranger, Francis Saili, George Moala, Chris Noakes, Piri Weepu, Peter Saili, Luke Braid, Steven Luatua, Ali Williams (capt), Culum Retallick, Charlie Faumuina, James Parsons, Tom McCartney. Reserves: Jackson Willison, Baden Kerr, Bryn Hall, Brendon O'Connor, Liaki Moli, Angus Ta'avao, Quentin MacDonald.