10 Apr 2015

Blues seeking first win of season

6:48 pm on 10 April 2015

The Blues have perhaps their best chance to end their winless start to the Super Rugby season, when the Auckland-based side host the ACT Brumbies on Friday night.

The pressure only keeps increasing on Blues coach Sir John Kirwan

The pressure only keeps increasing on Blues coach Sir John Kirwan Photo: Photosport

The Canberra team are top of the Australian conference, but it's the first true home game for the Blues, who've lost seven from seven but haven't been able to play at Eden Park until now.

The Cricket World Cup forced Sir John Kirwan's team on the road for five of those games, with just two 'home' games at North Harbour Stadium.

The Blues coach won't admit that their playoff ambitions are over, though his re-signed All Blacks forward Steven Luatua says they must win all of their remaining nine games, with bonus points, if they're to reach the finals.

Kirwan concedes their finals aspirations come down to winning tonight.

"We're certainly really positive, we've got a strong run home - lots of home games - it's fantastic to be back at Eden Park this week, but we need to start winning," he said.

"So it's certainly not over. We still believe we can force for a playoff spot."

Kirwan said not being able to play at their Eden Park fortress until now was no excuse for their poor run of results.

The coach has made four changes to his starting XV tonight's match.

There are three changes in the forwards with James Parsons replacing Keven Mealamu at hooker, Luke Braid taking over from Steven Luatua on the blindside flank and Patrick Tuipulotu coming in for Hayden Triggs at lock.

The final change is in the backline where Melani Nanai returns on the left wing for Tevita Li.

The only players not considered for selection were half-back Bryn Hall on long term recovery while both fullback Lolagi Visinia and All Black prop Tony Woodcock have a further week off recovering from head knocks.

Jimmy Cowan is also on leave as his partner is expecting the birth of their second child.

Blues: 15 Charles Piutau, 14 Frank Halai, 13 Pita Ahki, 12 George Moala, 11 Melani Nanai, 10 Dan Bowden, 9 Jamison Gibson-Park, 8 Jerome Kaino (c), 7 Brendon O'Connor, 6 Luke Braid, 5 Patrick Tuipulotu, 4 Josh Bekhuis, 3 Charlie Faumuina, 2 James Parsons, 1 Ofa Tu'ungafasi.

Replacements: 16 Keven Mealamu, 17 Sam Prattley, 18 Angus Ta'avao, 19 Hayden Triggs, 20 Steven Luatua, 21 Jamie Booth, 22 Ihaia West, 23 Francis Saili

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