Mealamu drops out of Blues

Blues coach David Nucifora has continued his selectional sideline of his star All Blacks, this time dropping hooker Keven Mealamu, who joins Ali Williams on the bench, while Joe Rokocoko is out of the squad.

Nucifora has made three changes this week in the Blues starting line-up to play the Force on Friday in Perth.

Firstly, at hooker, Derren Witcombe will start.

“This is a tactical decision. We wanted to look at ways to best utilise both Keven Mealamu and Derren within the 80 minutes,” says Blues coach David Nucifora.

Luke McAlister returns from injury and replaces Sam Tuitupou.

“Sam received a minor neck strain in the Bulls match and has returned to New Zealand. We are fortunate to have Luke back in the fold and look forward to his contribution. He was playing extremely well prior to his injury.”

Nick Williams returns to the starting XV at number eight.

“Nick has been used at different times throughout the season at number eight in games he is particularly suited to. We feel his strength in this match will be a key factor and have moved Jerome to blindside,” Nucifora explains.

The Blues, after crucial consecutive losses to the Sharks, Stormers and Bulls, are in a situation where a loss may see them slide out of a semi-final position.

“We are aware more than anybody how important this match is for us. We have trained well this week and are very focused on delivering a winning performance on Friday. That is all that we can control in this complex race for semi-final positions.”

Blues: 15 George Pisi, 14 Doug Howlett, 13 Isaia Toeava, 12 Luke McAlister, 11 Rudi Wulff, 10 Isa Nacewa, 9 Steve Devine, 8 Nick Williams, 7 Daniel Braid, 6 Jerome Kaino, 5 Troy Flavell, 4 Greg Rawlinson, 3 John Afoa, 2 Derren Witcombe, 1 Tony Woodcock
Replacements: 16 Keven Mealamu, 17 Nick White, 18 Ali Williams, 19 Justin Collins, 20 Taniela Moa, 21 Ben Atiga, 22 Anthony Tuitavake

Date: Friday 4 May
Venue: Subiaco Oval, Perth.
Kick-off: 19.05 (11.05 GMT)
Referee: Jonathan Kaplan (South Africa)
Touch judges: Deon van Blommestein (South Africa), James Leckie (Australia)
Television match official: George Ayoub (Australia)
Assessor: Ian Scotney, Tony Dunlop


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