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Blues and Reds name sides for Kaino swansong

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Blues and Reds name sides for Kaino swansong

Tana Umaga and Brad Thorn have named their respective sides ahead of Jerome Kaino’s final home game at Eden Park.

Kaino will run out for his 137th appearance for the club after making his debut in 2004.

He’ll line up on the blindside, and will be joined by Blake Gibson, who is making his first appearance of the season, and Akira Ioane in the back row.

All Blacks prop Ofa Tuungafasi returns to bolster a strong looking Blues first with Alex Hodgman and James Parsons. Gerard Cowley-Tuioti and Matiaha Martin make up the second row.

With Sonny Bill Williams sidelined with a shoulder injury he suffered against France, Rieko Ioane moves into the No. 12 jersey and pairs with Michael Collins in the midfield.

It leaves an exciting back three with New Zealand Under-20s winger Caleb Clark, Melani Nanai and Matt Duffie.

Captain Augustine Pulu will need to come through a fitness test to take his place at halfback inside Stephen Perofeta and is bracketed with Sam Nock.
“This is an important occasion for our club and for this team. Jerome has been a magnificent contributor to the Blues and the All Blacks both on and off the field, and much of that success has been on Eden Park,” said coach Tana Umaga.

“There is no better way for our team to honour Jerome than to produce a performance of real quality, consistency and direction.

“Our season to date has been disappointing, but we see these final three games as important for us to transfer that hard work that we see on the training field into performance on it.”

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Reds coach Brad Thorn will be without two of his key players for the trans-Tasman clash, with Izack Rodda and Izaia Perese both ruled out through injury.

Despite this, Thorn’s side will be bolstered by several Wallabies including Brandon Paenga-Amosa, Taniela Tupou, Lukhan Tui and Samu Kerevi with Caleb Timu on the bench.

The injury to regular starter Rodda sees young lock Harry Hockings get his second opportunity in the starting lineup, where he pairs with Kane Douglas.

Perese’s injury brings Eto Nabuli into the fold for the first time since week six.

The Reds have also made several changes to the bench. Junior Wallabies prop Harry Hoopert and scrumhalf Tate McDermott have both resumed their reserve roles after returning from the World Rugby U20s Championships in France.

Reds head coach Brad Thorn said: “The guys are excited to be back in Super Rugby mode. Queensland hasn’t won at Eden Park since 2012, so there’s a great challenge and opportunity in front of us to show what progress we’ve made this season.

“We’ve been hit with some injuries during the June Test window through Wallabies and club Rugby, but we’ve been giving players opportunities all year to ensure we can deal with setbacks when they occur. It’s disappointing to lose those guys to injury, but it presents opportunities to other players.

“The Blues are a dangerous team. They’re big, athletic and have plenty of strike power. It’s tough to win at Eden Park, so we’ll need head there ready for anything.”
BLUES

1. Alex Hodgman, 2. James Parsons, 3. Ofa Tuungafasi, 4. Gerard Cowley-Tuioti, 5. Matiaha Martin, 6. Jerome Kaino, 7. Blake Gibson, 8. Akira Ioane, 9. Augustine Pulu (C)/Sam Nock, 10. Stephen Perofeta, 11. Caleb Clarke, 12. Rieko Ioane, 13. Michael Collins, 14. Melani Nanai, 15. Matt Duffie.
Reserves: 16. Matt Moulds/Leni Apisai, 17. Pauliasi Manu, 18. Sione Mafileo, 19. Jacob Pierce, 20. Murphy Taramai, 21. Jonathan Ruru, 22. Bryn Gatland, 23 TJ Faiane/Tumua Manu.

REDS

1. JP Smith, 2. Brandon Paenga-Amosa, 3. Taniela Tupou, 4. Harry Hockings, 5. Kane Douglas, 6. Lukhan Tui, 7. George Smith, 8. Scott Higginbotham, 9. Moses Sorovi, 10. Hamish Stewart, 11. Eto Nabuli, 12. Duncan Paia’aua, 13. Samu Kerevi, 14. Jordan Petaia, 15. Jono Lance.
Reserves: 16. Alex Mafi, 17. Harry Hoopert, 18. Ruan Smith, 19. Caleb Timu, 20. Angus Scott-Young, 21. Tate McDermott, 22. Aidan Toua, 23. Filipo Daugunu.

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Blues and Reds name sides for Kaino swansong