It looks as though there is some mixed news on the injury front for the Blues as they prepare to meet the Sharks at Eden Park this weekend.
The big news is that monster lock Ali Williams will probably be back in action this week. The former Blues stalwart spent a season down in “Title Town” last year, learning how to win trophies with the Crusaders. He’s back in Auckland now, though and will look to add some serious grunt to a second row that is crying out for some experience. Kurtis Haiu and Antony Boric have done a reasonable job, but with Williams in the mix, the Blues tight five starts to take on a pretty menacing look, with John Afoa, Keven Mealamu, Tony Woodcock and Williams all seasoned All Black veterans. Williams’ little brother, Jay, will also be available for selection if required, meaning we could potentially have three Williamses on the field, with right wing Paul not obviously related to the other two. I guess it’s true what they say about the Welsh, then…
Jerome Kaino, Josh Blackie and Justin Collins are a well-balanced and dangerous loose trio as well and could pose some problems for the Deysel-less Sharks, particularly at the tackle-ball situation. Any talk of playing Steve Sykes at blindside flank will hopefully disappear, though, given that the hard Marlow-man’s grunt will be sorely needed up front, now that Williams is back in the fold.
The Blues have been dealt a cruel blow amongst the backs, though, with flyhalf Tasesa Lavea joining inside centre Benson Stanley on the long-term injured list. Rookie Jamie Heleur will partner either the journeyman Jimmy Gopperth, or the highly rated young Jock Hobbs in an untried 10-12 combination. The Sharks, by comparison, are starting to look pretty dangerous amongst the inside backs with Ruan Pienaar and Frans Steyn finding a number of good ways to bust through the middle against the Chiefs. Expect more of the same, should the Sharks manage anything resembling decent ball from the forwards.
It’s going to be an exciting tussle, all right.Tweet