Super Rugby Round 16 - Highlanders v Blues
George Moala breaks Blues protocols again
May 30, 2013
George Moala will not feature in the return fixture against the Highlanders © Getty Images
Blues coach Sir John Kirwan has dropped George Moala as one of five changes to his Super Rugby starting team to face the Highlanders in Dunedin on Saturday after yet another breach of team protocol. Moala failed to attend a training session on Sunday, the day after the side's 20-13 loss to the Brumbies. Dropped from this week's side, to be replaced by Waisake Naholo, he is also understood to have been fined $NZ500.
With Keven Mealamu away with the All Blacks earlier this week, James Parsons has been given the nod at hooker while lock Anthony Boric makes just his second start of the season in place of Culum Retallick.
"Our whole lineout was here with Ali being back and Anthony starting so we've just got a little bit selfish really and said JP can throw all week and Kevvie can come off the bench," Kirwan said. "It gives us a little bit more organisation and confidence in what is a critical game. AB is ready to go, he's had his challenges, he's an All Black lock and Red [Culum Retallick] is on the bench so it's a great opportunity for AB to step up and show us what he's got."
All Blacks prospect Steven Luatua has overcome a neck injury to start at blindside flanker, while Luke Braid retains his spot on the openside after scans on his groin came back clear. In the backs, Baden Kerr makes his second start of the season in place of Chris Noakes who is dealing with family issues. "It's time to give Waisake a crack at it," Kirwan said. "He's deserved it, he's worked hard and we know what George can do so it's a little bit of a change up."
Moala previously was dropped from the team for breaking team protocols in April, remaining in Auckland when the Blues played Queensland Reds in Brisbane. After missing another game, against the Stormers, he returned to play three matches against the Rebels, Crusaders and Brumbies. He then appeared at Auckland District Court in May, alongside his brother, Siua, to face assault charges for an incident that took place on Auckland's Karangahape Road in December 2012. They each face two charges of assault with intent to injure, and they have been remanded on bail without plea until June 4.
Moala, 22, featured in the Blues development side that played the New Zealand under-20 team in Auckland on Wednesday night. The development side, which featured prop Tom McCartney, Ofa Tu'ungafasi, Kane Barrett, Quentin MacDonald and Albert Nikoro, defeated the Ardie Savea-led national side 25-24. New Zealand Under-20 will look to secure their fifth world title at the junior world championship in France, which begins next week, after the team lost the 2012 final to tournament hosts South Africa.
Kirwan said he was looking forward to playing on a dry track under the Forsyth Barr Stadium roof on Saturday night. "For us it's a case of if you don't understand the importance of this week then you're playing the wrong game, and our boys do," he said. "We're excited about the challenge. We know the Highlanders have just been missing so they can make their season by beating us. We can't let that happen, we've got to put our season back on track and get back up the points table and stay in touch. If we do that this weekend then we're back in contention for the top six so there's a lot riding on it."
Blues: Charles Piutau; Frank Halai, Rene Ranger, Francis Saili, Waisake Naholo; Baden Kerr, Piri Weepu; Peter Saili, Luke Braid, Steven Luatua; Ali Williams, Anthony Boric; Angus Ta'avao, James Parsons, Tim Perry. Replacements: Keven Mealamu, Sam Prattley, Culum Retallick, Brendon O'Connor, Jamison Gibson-Park, Marty McKenzie, Jackson Willison.
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