Super Rugby
Keven Mealamu named to play Blues game No.150
July 3, 2014
The Blues' Keven Mealamu barks instructions, Blues v Hurricanes, Super Rugby, Eden Park, Auckland, May 31, 2014
Keven Mealamu has played 160 Super Rugby matches including is season with the Chiefs © Getty Images

Keven Mealamu will become the first Blues player to play 150 games for the franchise when he starts against the Crusaders in Christchurch on Saturday.

The All Blacks centurion, who has already racked up 160 Super Rugby appearances including his season with the Chiefs in 2000, is just two matches from equalling the record for the most Super Rugby appearances, held by Nathan Sharpe, and is second only to Colin Meads in first-class games after playing his 350th match against Western Force last Saturday.

"He's such an important part of the team," Blues head coach Sir John Kirwan said. "He's our matai and what we stand for. He's been around for 150 games but I think he'll leave a huge legacy when he does decide to move on. It's a special moment for him and his family: 150 games for one franchise is incredible and hopefully we can help him celebrate that with a win."

Kirwan, meanwhile, has made just one change to the starting XV, with Charles Piutau returning from injury to start on the left wing in place of George Moala.

"He's been injured but he's back fit and he's done all his contact and return-to-play stuff," Kirwan said of Piutau. "He's an All Black and an important member of our team, and we just want to get him out there.

"We've decided to put him on the left wing with the littlest pressure on him for the high ball catch. He probably won't last the whole football game, and George Moala's been playing really well, so it's just a matter of sharing that up and he's ready to go so it's exciting."

Piri Weepu has been ruled out of the match after a scan revealed a screw in the ankle he broke in 2010 has become loose.

The Blues have not beaten the Crusaders in Christchurch since 2004, and they must win if they are to have any chance of making the play-offs.

"We've been playing sudden-death rugby most of the year so we're used to the pressure," Kirwan said. "We've got to keep the energy and excitement that we've had in the last couple of outings so if we can do that we'll be fine."

Blues: Lolagi Visinia; Frank Halai, Pita Ahki, Ma'a Nonu, Charles Piutau; Ihaia West, Bryn Hall; Jerome Kaino, Luke Braid (captain), Steven Luatua; Tom Donnelly, Patrick Tuipulotu; Charlie Faumuina, Keven Mealamu, Tony Woodcock. Replacements: James Parsons, Ofa Tu'ungafasi, Sam Prattley, Hayden Triggs, Peter Saili, Jamison Gibson-Park, Francis Saili, George Moala.


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