Blues rookies face experienced Reds
Luke Braid will skipper the Blues. Photo: Getty Images
Sir John Kirwan has given the Blues' newcomers a prime chance to test themselves against a powerful Queensland outfit in his Super Rugby coaching debut in Saturday night's trial in Toowoomba.
While the rebuilding Auckland-based outfit will take a 27-man squad featuring 18 uncapped players, they'll come up against a Reds side boasting 11 Wallabies from 2012.
Their starting 15 features nine players who have yet to pull on a Blues jersey, including the entire backline.
All Blacks great Kirwan, who has replaced Pat Lam as Blues coach, says it will be a great challenge for his young team and he's looking forward to seeing them express themselves.
"They're all ready to go, they've been training really hard and now it's time to play," he said.
"We've left some of the more experienced guys at home, we know what they can do so it's a chance for the young boys to have a go."
Luke Braid will captain the side in the absence of Ali Williams, who will stay at home alongside fellow All Blacks Piri Weepu and Charlie Faumuina.
Anthony Boric, Rene Ranger, Charles Piutau, Culum Retallick and George Moala have also been rested.
Auckland: Tom McCartney, James Parsons, Angus Ta'avo, Liaki Moli, Ronald Raaymakers, Kane Barrett, Luke Braid (captain), Peter Saili, Bryn Hall, Baden Kerr, Frank Halai, Jackson Willison, Malakai Fekitoa, Waisake Naholo, Marty McKenzie. Reserves: Albert Nikoro, Lolagi Visinia, Pita Ahki, Francis Saili, Jamison Gibson-Park, Joe Edwards, Sean Polwart, Brendon O'Connor, Steven Luatua, Ofa Tu'ungafasi, Tim Perry, Quentin MacDonald.