Blues name eight All Blacks to take on Lions


Blues coach Tana Umaga has selected eight current or former All Blacks in his side to take on the British and Irish Lions on Wednesday, including double Rugby World Cup winner Sonny Bill Williams.

Charlie Faumuina - capped 46 times by New Zealand - starts in the front row alongside fellow internationals Ofa Tu'ungafasi and Blues captain James Parsons.

Bristol-bound number eight Steven Luatua is included, with Augustine Pulu, Rieko Ioane and George Moala completing the Blues' set of players with Test experience.

Williams is named despite facing a late test on a knee injury and will be replaced by TJ Faiane if he is deemed unfit, while another of the Blues' most recognisable faces - 77-time All Black Jerome Kaino - is still recovering from knee surgery.

Umaga - remembered for his role in the controversial spear tackle on Brian O'Driscoll during the early stages of the first Lions test of 2005 - says his attention has been fixed on Super Rugby performances but believes his players will not be short of motivation against the tourists.

"Our focus all season has been on Super Rugby - it has had to be," he said. "So while the lead-up is short, there's no doubt that this game is going to be a really special day for our players and our club to play against the British and Irish Lions.

"It is something that I experienced as a player and has remained with me.

"There's no doubt it will be a challenging turnaround for us. In the last 30 days we have played four Super games in New Zealand, South Africa and Samoa and now the British and Irish Lions.

"We are fortunate to have some senior players back from injury which will be a help.

"The reality is that it will not take much to motivate for this game. It is a special occasion and I hope the guys do themselves, their families and their club proud."


Blues XV: Michael Collins, Matt Duffie, George Moala, Sonny Bill Williams, Rieko Ioane, Stephen Perofeta, Augustine Pulu; Ofa Tu'ungafasi, James Parsons (captain), Charlie Faumuina, Gerard Cowley-Tuioti, Scott Scrafton, Akira Ioane, Blake Gibson, Steven Luatua.

Replacements: Hame Faiva, Alex Hodgman, Sione Mafileo, Patrick Tuipulotu, Kara Pryor, Sam Nock, Ihaia West, TJ Faiane.