McAlister benched for Blues

Blues coach David Nucifora has made three changes to his starting line-up for Saturday’s clash with the Lions at Eden Park in Auckland.

The most notable is the exclusion of form All Black Luke McAlister from the starting fifteen, although his spot is filled by fellow All Black Sam Tuitupou.

Tuitupou, Nick Williams and veteran Super rugby player David Holwell have all been selected to start the match while Rudi Wulff starts in place of the injured Anthony Tuitavake.

In a further positional Jerome Kaino switches from number eight to blindside flanker to make room for Williams.

Nucifora says the reasoning behind his changes are two-fold – to offer strength on the bench for later in the game and careful player management.

“We are fortunate to have such depth in our squad that we are able to bring on All Black Sam Tuitupou and Junior All Black Nick Williams to start the match,” Nucifora says.

“Having somebody as experienced as David Holwell in at fly-half also adds another leadership dimension into the mix.

“Competition is about managing our players well. These three have trained very well and deserve their opportunity to run onto the park,” he says.

Strategically, the option of having Isa Nacewa, Luke McAlister and Angus Macdonald on the bench is intentional.

“Bringing these players off the bench towards the back end of the match also offers us a fresh injection of firepower. An important ingredient in our successes to date has been the contribution of experienced players coming into play later in the game, enabling us to finish games strongly – something which was a weakness for us last season.”

Blues: 15 Ben Atiga, 14 Doug Howlett, 13 Isaia Toeava, 12 Sam Tuitupou, 11 Rudi Wulff, 10 David Holwell, 9 David Gibson, 8 Nick Williams, 7 Daniel Braid, 6 Jerome Kaino, 5 Troy Flavell, 4 Greg Rawlinson, 3 John Afoa, 2 Derren Whitcombe, 1 Saimone Taumoepeau
Replacements: 16 Chris Heard, 17 Nick White, 18 Anthony Boric, 19 Angus MacDonald, 20 Steve Devine, 21 Isa Nacewa, 22 Luke McAlister

Venue: Eden Park, Auckland
Date: 10 March 2007
Kick-off: 19.35 (6.35 GMT)
Referee: Paul Marks (Australia)
Touch judges: Brett Bowden (Australia), Chris Pollock (New Zealand)
Television match official: Ben Skeen (New Zealand)
Assessor: Alan Riley (New Zealand), Arrie Schoonwinkel (South Africa)

365 Digital

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