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Umaga keeps Blues unchanged for Waratahs

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Blues head coach Tana Umaga has named an unchanged starting line up for the third week in a row as the Blues prepare to host the Waratahs at Eden Park on Friday.

Umaga has retained the same starting line up since Super Rugby returned from the June International window.

They will again be led by captain James Parsons sharing the front row with All Black Ofa Tu’ungafasi, with the pair among six Blues players who have played in every game this season.

Outstanding loose forward Steven Luatua joins winger Tevita Li as the only players to have started in every game this season, with the inside pairing of Bryn Hall and Ihaia West also set to play in every game, either starting or off the bench.

All Blacks Charlie Faumuina and George Moala have made progress with their recovery from injury but both have been bracketed on the bench.

The Blues had a night off earlier this week for their annual awards but have quickly re-focussed in their bid for further improved form in Friday night’s game.

“We may have missed out on the playoffs but our focus from the start of the season has been to work hard and improve every match,” said head coach Tana Umaga.

“This week is no different. In some ways it is more important because we put things together well at times during last week’s win over the Brumbies, but it won’t count for much if we can’t back it up with another good performance.

“It will be a fierce game because the Waratahs have so much to play for, so if we do not come with the right preparation and right attitude, we will be in trouble.”

Blues

Sam Prattley, James Parsons ( C ), Ofa Tu’ungafasi, Patrick Tuipulotu, Josh Bekhuis, Jerome Kaino, Kara Pryor, Steven Luatua; Bryn Hall, Ihaia West, Tevita Li, Piers Francis, Male Sa’u, Matt Duffie, Melani Nanai.

Replacements: Matt Moulds, Nic Mayhew, Sione Mafileo or Charlie Faumuina, Scott Scrafton, Blake Gibson, Billy Guyton, Matt Vaega or George Moala, Lolagi Visinia.

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