Blues fit and ready for rebels

Blues fit and ready for rebels

The Blues will utilise all of the fully fit squad in the opening pre-season match against the Melbourne Rebels on Thursday.

The match is a free game for the public, to be held at Bell Park at Pakuranga United with kick-off at 5.30pm.

It is the first hit-out of the season for the Blues, and head coach Tana Umaga wants to give as many of his squad a run as possible.

“There are a few niggles and so we won’t take any risks at this time of the year but all the rest will play,” Umaga said.

That will include Rene Ranger, who has not played since last April in France, after suffering a neck injury.

“He has been improving every week. We have had two full contact hitouts in the last two weeks and he has grown in confidence and is looking good.

“We have competition or positions and the boys have responded to this challenge and everyone is keen to play.”

Umaga said the team is excited to get their season underway out in the Blues community at Pakuranga.

The game will be played in 20 minute quarters, with the final stanza potentially extended.

The Blues players to get game time, including All Black and Blues captain Jerome Kaino, on Thursday are:

Sione Mafileo, Nic Mayhew, Sam Prattley, Ofa Tu’ungafasi, Namatahi Waa, Quentin MacDonald, Matt Moulds, James Parsons, Josh Bekhuis, Patrick Tuipulotu, Hoani Matenga, Scott Scrafton, Gerard Cowley-Tuioti, Steven Luatua, Jerome Kaino, Joe Edwards, Jack Ram.

Backs: Billy Guyton, Bryn Hall, Sam Nock, Ihaia West, Piers Francis, Matt McGahan, Michael Little, George Moala, Melani Nanai, Rene Ranger, Jordan Trainor, Lolagi Visinia, Matt Vaega, Tevita Li, Matt Duffie.