Kirwan puts faith in youth for Blues' SA trip
Sir John Kirwan will have 10 rookies on his hands when the Blues land in South Africa this weekend to try and keep their Super Rugby campaign alive.
Kirwan's 26-man touring party features 10 players who have not travelled to South Africa before, including wider training group player Lolagi Visinia, who played for the New Zealand under-20s this morning in their semifinal loss to England at the world championships in France.
Visinia will fly from France to join the squad after the bronze medal match against South Africa on Monday.
All Blacks squad members Charles Piutau, Francis Saili, Steven Luatua, Piri Weepu, Keven Mealamu and Rene Ranger will join the team early next week following the third test against France in New Plymouth on Saturday night.
The well-being of halfback Weepu will be crucial with the Blues naming just two halfbacks for the tour that features matches against the Sharks and Cheetahs.
"We've taken a bit of a risk there," Kirwan admitted.
"I think the biggest factor for us is waiting on the guys from the All Blacks and making sure they're all OK to travel."
The eighth-placed Blues will likely have to win both of those games to have any chance of pushing into the top six playoff places.
Their last regular season match will be a return to Auckland to face defending champions, the Chiefs.
Blues squad to tour South Africa:
Props: Tim Perry, Sam Prattley, Angus Ta'avao, Ofa Tu'ungafasi.
Hookers: Quentin MacDonald, Keven Mealamu, James Parsons.
Locks: Anthony Boric, Culum Retallick, Ali Williams.
Loose forwards: Luke Braid, Steven Luatua, Peter Saili, Brendon O'Connor, Kane Barrett.
Halfbacks: Jamison Gibson-Park, Piri Weepu.
First five-eighths: Baden Kerr, Chris Noakes.
Midfielders: Francis Saili, Jackson Willison, Rene Ranger.
Outside backs: George Moala, Frank Halai, Charles Piutau, Lolagi Visinia.