Super Rugby
Luatua to captain Blues as Ranger has neck surgery
May 6, 2015
Steve Luatua will captain the Blues for the remainder of the Super Rugby season © Getty Images

A surprised Steven Luatua has replaced the injured Jerome Kaino as Blues captain for the remainder of the Super Rugby season. Kaino will miss the final five games after injuring his finger during their 41-24 win over the Western Force in Auckland on Saturday, their second win in 11 games.

All Blacks flanker Luatua, 24, takes the helm ahead of Friday's game against the Rebels in Melbourne. The 14-Test forward, who hasn't been skipper before, gets the nod ahead of former captain Keven Mealamu, the veteran All Blacks hooker who endorsed Luatua's promotion.

Luatua has faced a battle to start games this season, coming off the bench against the Force after rising teenage flanker Akira Ioane started and excelled in a barnstorming performance. The captaincy offer this week from coach Sir John Kirwan caught Luatua by surprise.

"I was in a bit of shock and lost for words. Growing up as a kid in the region, this is something you aspire to," he said. "I want to finish with a 100 per cent record now I have the armband and I want the team to play the best footy they can."

Meanwhile, blockbusting back Rene Ranger has undergone a successful neck operation in France ahead of his return to New Zealand.

Ranger is having to sit out the final games of Montpellier's season in the French Top 14 league after suffering a herniated disc injury at the top of his spine. It required surgery on Tuesday which had gone well according to a Twitter post from Ranger, pictured wearing a neck brace.

The 28-year-old left for France in 2013, soon after playing his sixth Test. In March he announced his second season with Montpellier would be his last, cutting his three-year deal short by a season to return to domestic rugby with North Harbour and a Super Rugby contract with the Blues.


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