Luatua to captain, new Blues to start

Luatua to captain, new Blues to start

Steven Luatua is set to captain his first Blues team this weekend when they face the Melbourne Rebels at AAMI Park on Friday.

Luatua has stepped up to the helm after former skip, Jerome Kaino, was ruled out for the remainder of the season with a compound dislocation of his ring finger.

Also ruled out for round 13 is Charles Piutau and flanker Luke Braid. But with the injuries, come opportunities for some of the younger players to get game time.

Accurate kicker Ihaia West will return at first-five while Dan Bowden stays behind due to a groin injury. Lolagi Visinia will move back to fullback and Tevita Li, our young speedster, will be moving up to wing.

There are also potential debuts off the bench for Greg Pleasants-Tate and Joe Edwards. Simon Hickey will also be looking for his first game of the season.

The game will kick-off at 9.40pm (NZT) and will be shown live on Sky Sport 1.

The team is:
1. Tony Woodcock
2. Keven Mealamu
3. Angus Ta’avao
4. Culum Retallick
5. Hayden Triggs
6. Akira Ioane
7. Brendon O’Connor
8. Steven Luatua (C)
9. Jimmy Cowan
10. Ihaia West
11. Tevita Li
12. George Moala
13. Francis Saili
14. Melani Nanai
15. Lolagi Visinia

Reserves:
16. Greg Pleasants-Tate
17. Ofa Tu’ungafasi
18. Sam Prattley
19. Josh Bekhuis
20. Joe Edwards
21. Jamison Gibson-Park
22. Simon Hickey
23. Hamish Northcott