Blues unchanged for Waratahs

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Blues head coach Tana Umaga has named an unchanged starting XV for their final match of the year, against the Waratahs, in Auckland on Friday.

They will again be led by captain James Parsons sharing the front row with All Black Ofa Tu’ungafasi, with the pair among six Blues players who have played in every game this season.

Outstanding loose forward Steven Luatua joins winger Tevita Li as the only players to have started in every game this season, with the inside pairing of Bryn Hall and Ihaia West also set to play in every game, either starting or off the bench.

All Blacks Charlie Faumuina and George Moala have made progress with their recovery from injury but both have been bracketed on the bench.

“We may have missed out on the playoffs but our focus from the start of the season has been to work hard and improve every match,” said Umaga.

“This week is no different. In some ways it is more important because we put things together well at times during last week’s win over the Brumbies, but it won’t count for much if we can’t back it up with another good performance.

“It will be a fierce game because the Waratahs have so much to play for, so if we do not come with the right preparation and right attitude, we will be in trouble.”

Blues: 15 Melani Nanai, 14 Matt Duffie, 13 Male Sa’u, 12 Piers Francis, 11 Tevita Li, 10 Ihaia West, 9 Bryn Hall, 8 Steven Luatua, 7 Kara Pryor, 6 Jerome Kaino, 5 Josh Bekhuis, 4 Patrick Tuipulotu, 3 Ofa Tu’ungafasi, 2 James Parsons (c), 1 Sam Prattley
Replacements: 16 Matt Moulds, 17 Nic Mayhew, 18 Sione Mafileo/Charlie Faumuina, 19 Scott Scrafton, 20 Blake Gibson, 21 Billy Guyton, 22 Matt Vaega/George Moala, 23 Lolagi Visinia

Date: Friday, July 15
Venue: Eden Park, Auckland
Kick-off: 19:35 local (07:35 GMT)
Referee: Mike Fraser (New Zealand)
Assistant Referees: Kane McBride (New Zealand), Brendon Pickerill (New Zealand)
TMO: Ben Skeen (New Zealand)