BLUES PROP Charlie Faumuina is back to full fitness and will start against the Brumbies in Canberra on Saturday.
Faumuina hasn’t played for the Blues for two months since tearing his calf against the Lions in round 12, just days before he was named in the All Blacks Wider Training Squad for the Steinlager Series Tests against Ireland. The injury meant he played no part in the June Tests, but after having a 30 minute hit-out for his club side Papatoetoe last week, he is ready to re-join the Blues for their final match of the season.
With Keven Mealamu and Tony Woodcock also suffering calf strains this season, it will be just the third time the Blues have been able to field their full strength front row.
“It’s great news for us, Charlie has been a big loss at tighthead so he’s going to make a big difference and he’s excited and ready to go,” Blues head coach Pat Lam said.
Steven Luatua has overcome a foot injury sustained against the Force last week and will shift from flanker to lock, but the Blues haven’t quite managed to shake their injury curse with Rene Ranger missing Saturday’s clash due to a groin strain.
Ranger was due to play his 50th game for the Blues, but the left wing position will now be claimed by Hadleigh Parkes.
“It’s a real blow for us and he joins a long list of guys out,” Lam said of losing the game breaking Ranger. “We actually have 16 guys out from our original squad so it’s a big challenge going out to play the Brumbies who have proven their critics wrong, they’re a good side.”
Blues v Brumbies
Saturday 14 July 2012 at Canberra Stadium, ACT
Kick-Off: 06:30 BST
Charles Piutau, Lachie Munro, Francis Saili, Ma’a Nonu, Hadleigh Parkes, Michael Hobbs, Piri Weepu, Tony Woodcock, Keven Mealamu [C], Charlie Faumuina, Liaki Moli, Steven Luatua, Chris Lowrey, Daniel Braid, Luke Braid
Tom McCartney, Tevita Mailau, Andrew Van der Heijden, Peter Saili, Alby Mathewson, Orene Ai’i, Sherwin Stowers