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Blues unchanged for Crusaders

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theblues.co.nz and James Mortimer     28 Feb 2013     Getty Images

Kirwan has rewarded his troops for an impressive first-up performance against the Hurricanes by keeping the same starting XV and bench, and said it was a pretty simple decision.

“After the performance last week the guys can go around again so it was pretty easy,” Kirwan said.

Kirwan, who played many matches for Auckland against Canterbury during his playing career, said games didn’t come much bigger than Blues v Crusaders clashes.

“As games go, this is just under a Test match. Blues versus Crusaders is the game of the season so you’ve got to be ready for it because it should be. For us it’s like a local derby.”

While the Blues may have surprised many pundits by overcoming the Hurricanes last week, Kirwan knows they are going to have to step things up another gear at Eden Park on Friday night if they are to trouble the Red-and-Blacks.

“They’re the favourites; they’re talking about winning the Championship. I’ve been reading some articles and listening to the media and they’re installed as favourites, as they should be.

“They’re a great football side and we’ve really got to be on our game.”

Kirwan urged fans to turn up to Eden Park on Friday night to cheer on his side in the first home game of the season.

“We need the public support; we need everything we can get this week. I just want the public to be excited and to turn up and support us. We need that 16th man for sure.”

The Blues will wear a unique one-off jersey on Friday to help raise funds for Men’s Health Trust New Zealand. For more information on this initiative click here

The Blues team to face the Crusaders at Eden Park on Friday night (kick-off 7.30pm) is:

Starting XV:

15. Charles Piutau
14. Frank Halai
13. Rene Ranger
12. Francis Saili
11. George Moala
10. Chris Noakes
9. Piri Weepu
8. Peter Saili
7. Luke Braid
6. Steven Luatua
5. Ali Williams (C)
4. Culum Retallick
3. Charlie Faumuina
2. James Parsons
1. Tom McCartney

Reserves

16. Quentin MacDonald
17. Angus Ta’avao
18. Liaki Moli
19. Brendon O’Connor
20. Bryn Hall
21. Baden Kerr
22. Jackson Willison