Super Rugby round nine
Rene Ranger back on Blues wing
ESPN Staff
April 11, 2013
Blues' scrum-half Piri Weepu fends off Aaron Smith, Blues v Highlanders, Super Rugby, Eden Park, Auckland, April 5, 2013
Piri Weepu and the Blues regained the winning feeling against the Highlanders © Getty Images

Blues head coach Sir John Kirwan has made three changes, one positional, to his starting line-up for Saturday's clash with the Hurricanes at Eden Park.

Rene Ranger shifts to cover the left wing, with George Moala suspended for a week for a dangerous high tackle on Highlanders wing Buxton Popali'I, and Francis Saili is promoted from the bench to start at centre.

"It was a pretty easy decision to make," Blues coach Sir John Kirwan said of Ranger's positional switch. "He's done it for the team. We felt the way we finished last week was pretty special and I think it's only going to help his career. He's been our best centre and he will be our centre in the future but we need him to fill that spot for the week while George is away. He's settled into the position really well and he gives us some more power across the paddock."

The only other change to the starting XV comes at loose-head prop, with Tom McCartney replacing Tim Perry.

"We're expecting Tom to give us a bit of an injection," Kirwan said. "He was a bit annoyed that he wasn't playing last week so we've got some real competition going between Tim and Tom and we're expecting Tom to stand up and have a big one."

Kirwan believes the match against the Hurricanes on Saturday is crucial heading into the bye. "It's must-win every week. I keep hearing that from my children on Mondays saying 'you've got to win this week dad', and that's just the nature of this competition. When you talk about the conference this is a big one. The Hurricanes have improved, I'd like to think we've improved and they're one point ahead of us on the table so she's all on."

Blues: Charles Piutau; Frank Halai, Francis Saili, Jackson Willison, Rene Ranger; Chris Noakes, Piri Weepu; Peter Saili, Luke Braid, Steven Luatua; Ali Williams (captain), Culum Retallick; Angus Ta'avao, James Parsons, Tom McCartney. Replacements: Keven Mealamu, Ofa Tu'ungafasi, Anthony Boric, Brendon O'Connor, Jamison Gibson-Park, Baden Kerr, Albert Nikoro.

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