Kaino to win 100th Blues cap against Cheetahs

The Blues have named their team to play the Cheetahs in Bloemfontein on Friday with Jerome Kaino winning his 100th Super Rugby cap.

As well as Kaino becoming the latest Super Rugby centurion All Blacks Charlie Faumuina and Patrick Tuipulotu will make their first starts of the season.

Blues hooker Keven Mealamu, who will become the most capped Super player of all time (163) when he next takes the field, has paid tribute to his long-time teammate.

“Everyone knows that his major attributes are his presence and physical presence on the field,” Mealamu said.

“I have been lucky enough to be there since the start of his career and to see him blossom as a leader. People probably do not realise that Jerome has a very good understanding of rugby and his position. “

“In our team he is a guru of defence, not just because he of his own physicality, but also his intricate knowledge of the game and defensive systems. He is a very smart player.”

Faumuina has come off the bench in both games this season while Tuipulotu came on for his season debut in the second half of the match last weekend against the Stormers in Capetown.

Tuipulotu will start in place of Hayden Triggs who received a one match suspension following his red card against the Stormers.

The Blues will start open side loose forwards Brendon O’Connor and Luke Braid, who were both outstanding last weekend, while Steven Luatua, who was replaced after receiving a shoulder injury, will come off the bench as cover for both loose forward and lock.

There’s been a reshuffle in the backline with Hamish Northcott moving in to second five, Charles Piutau from fullback to centre, Melani Nanai, part of the wider training group, making his debut on the right wing and Lolagi Visinia returning to fullback.

Added to the bench is replacement Simon Hickey, coming in for Dan Bowden, who has returned home after re-aggravating his foot injury.

Blues

Tony Woodcock , James Parsons , Charlie Faumuina , Josh Bekhuis , Patrick Tuipulotu , Luke Braid , Brendon O’Connor , Jerome Kaino , Jimmy Cowan , Ihaia West , Tevita Li , Hamish Northcott , Charles Piutau , Melani Nanai , Lolagi Visinia

Replacements : , Matt Moulds , Ofa Tu’ungafasi , Angus Ta’avao , Steven Luatua , Akira Ioane , Jamison Gibson-Park , Simon Hickey , Francis Saili

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