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Blues get All Black boost for South Africa trip

Sonny Bill Williams and Jerome Kaino return to the Blues’ starting lineup for their away clash against the table topping Lions.

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Williams returns after missing one game with a leg injury, while Kaino makes his first start of the season after making an impact from the bench in week three.

Williams forms an All Black partnership with Rieko Ioane in the midfield, and Ioane’s vacant wing spot is awarded to Melani Nanai.

Four-test All Black midfielder George Moala has been dropped from the 23 after starting the first two games at outside centre.

21-year-old Sam Nock fills in for injured captain Augustine Pulu, linking up with Bryn Gatland in the No 10 jersey.

Promising young five eighth Stephen Perofeta is named on the bench and is primed for a return after suffering a broken hand in preseason.

Hooker James Parsons will lead the side in Pulu’s absence.

Coach Tana Umaga has gone for a six forwards-two backs split on the bench, hoping the strategy will help combat the altitude in Johannesburg.

“The Lions are a formidable team. We well remember our last time here two years ago and we are keen to put that right,” said Blues Coach Tana Umaga.

“They have scored a lot of tries this season off their lineout drive so we have worked hard on this aspect. We need to be disciplined and not give them attacking chances from penalties although at the same time we need to be our usual aggressive selves at the breakdown.”

Swys de Bruin has named an unchanged starting side for his Lions.

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He has made three changes to the bench, with loose forwards Kwagga Smith and Hacjivah Dayimani returning to the side along with utility back Ashlon Davids.

De Bruin has also opted for a six-two forwards and back split, with back-up scrumhalf Marco Jansen van Vuren out of the 23.

BLUES

1. Alex Hodgman, 2. James Parsons (C), 3. Ofa Tuungafasi, 4. Patrick Tuipulotu, 5. Gerard Cowley-Tuioti, 6. Jerome Kaino, 7. Antonio Kiri Kiri, 8. Akira Ioane; 9. Sam Nock, 10. Bryn Gatland, 11. Melani Nanai, 12. Sonny Bill Williams, 13. Rieko Ioane, 14. Matt Duffie,15. Michael Collins.

Reserves: 16. Ross Wright, 17. Pauliasi Manu, 18. Michael Tamoaieta, 19. Scott Scrafton, 20 Jimmy Tupou, 21. Murphy Taramai, 22. Jonathan Ruru, 23. Stephen Perofeta.

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LIONS

1. Jacques van Rooyen, 2. Malcolm Marx, 3. Ruan Dreyer, 4. Andries Ferreira, 5. Marvin Orie, 6. Cyle Brink, 7. Franco Mostert, 8. Warren Whiteley (C), 9. Ross Cronje, 10. Elton Jantjies, 11. Aphiwe Dyantyi, 12. Rohan Janse van Rensburg, 13. Lionel Mapoe, 14. Sylvian Mahuza, 15. Andries Coetzee.
Reserves: 16. Robbie Coetzee, 17. Dylan Smith, 18. Jacobus Adriaanse, 19. Lourens Erasmus, 20. Albertus Smith, 21. Ashlon Davids, 22. Harold Vorster, 23. Hacjivah Dayimani.

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Flankly 16 hours ago
Resilient Irish will test Springboks despite provincial setbacks

The Bok kryptonite is complacency. How did they lose to Japan in 2015, or to Italy in 2016? There are plenty of less dramatic examples. They often boil down to the Boks dialing back their focus and intensity, presuming they can win with less than 100% commitment. This can be true of most teams, but there is a reason that the Boks are prone to it. It boils down to the Bok game plan being predicated on intensity. The game plan works because of the relentless and suffocating pressure that they apply. They don’t allow the opponent to control the game, and they pounce on any mistake. It works fantastically, but it is extremely demanding on the Bok players to pull it off. And the problem is that it stops working if you execute at anything less than full throttle. Complacency kills the Boks because it can lead to them playing at 97% and getting embarrassed. So the Bulls/Leinster result is dangerous. It’s exactly what is needed to introduce that hint of over-confidence. Rassie needs to remind the team of the RWC pool game, and of the fact that Ireland have won 8 of the 12 games between the teams in the last 20 years. And of course the Leinster result also means that Ireland have a point to prove. Comments like “a club team beating a test team” will be pasted on the changing room walls. They will be out to prove that the result of the RWC game truly reflects the pecking order between the teams. The Boks can win these games, but, as always, they need to avoid the kryptonite.

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