Blues Super rugby head coach Tana Umaga has included All Black Rugby World Cup winner Sonny-Bill Williams in his squad to tour South Africa.
Williams was cleared of concussion to travel with the 25-strong squad, joined by Matt Duffie, spelled from last night’s game, and a mandatory third hooker, Joe Royal.
The Blues team jetted off to South Africa just hours after their 50-32 victory over the Cheetahs at Eden Park.
They flew from Auckland for the 24-hour flight to the republic to play the Stormers in Capetown on Friday (early Saturday morning NZT) before returning to meet the Chiefs at Eden Park the following week.
Two players from the Blues victory over the Cheetahs are out of the touring party because of injuries received in the match.
Prop Pauliasi Manu, who has started in every game this season, left the field early with a calf injury while Ihaia West injured his ankle when he came on as a substitute for Piers Francis who had received an injury in the first half.
Manu has been replaced by Sione Mafileo, with Bryn Gatland re-joining the Blues as a replacement for West. Gatland played three games for the Blues as a replacement, but exited the squad on Thursday before the late call to travel to South Africa. Francis was considered fit enough to travel with the touring party.
Ofa Tu’ungafasi, Charlie Faumuina, Sione Mafileo, Alex Hodgman; James Parsons, Hame Faiva, Joe Royal; Patrick Tuipulotu, Scott Scrafton, Gerard Cowley-Tuioti; Steven Luatua, Blake Gibson, Akira Ioane; Kara Pryor ; Augustine Pulu, Sam Nock; Piers Francis, Bryn Gatland; TJ Faiane, Sonny-Bill Williams, George Moala, Matt Duffie, Rieko Ioane, Melani Nanai, Michael Collins.