Super Rugby

Blues hand Francis Super Rugby debut against Jaguares

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The Blues have named their team to play the Jaguares at North Harbour on Saturday and included English-born back Piers Francis for his Super Rugby debut.

Twenty-five-year-old Francis has been sidelines with a foot injury since the pre-season and comes into the starting line up to partner Rene Ranger who returns to the side.

Francis played for Saracens for four years before moving to Auckland and then to Waikato and the Chiefs Wider Training Group before returning to UK to play for Edinburgh and Doncaster.

He returned last year to play for Counties Manukau and is renowned as an excellent defender and one of the fittest in the team.

The rest of the backline are the same players who travelled to the Reds last week.

Upfront James Parsons assumes the captaincy in the absence of the injured Jerome Kaino, with North Harbour prop Nick Mayhew given his first start to bolster up a scrum that will be tested against the Jaguares.

Joe Edwards starts in the place of Kaino on the side of the scrum with Akira Ioane to provide thrust off the bench.

After starting in each of the first four games, prop Ofa Tu’ungafasi and midfielder George Moala will come off the bench.

Blues

Nic Mayhew, James Parsons (c), Charlie Faumuina, Patrick Tuipulotu, Josh Bekhuis, Joe Edwards, Blake Gibson, Steven Luatua; Bryn Hall, Ihaia West, Tevita Li, Piers Francis, Rene Ranger, Rieko Ioane, Lolagi Visinia.

Replacements: Quentin MacDonald, Sam Prattley, Ofa Tu’ungafasi, Hoani Matenga, Akira Ioane, Billy Guyton, Matt McGahan, George Moala.

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