26 Feb 2014

Kirwan likens debutant to Fox and Cruden

6:21 pm on 26 February 2014

The Auckland first five-eighth, Simon Hickey, has been named to start in his Super Rugby debut for the Blues' crunch match against the Crusaders.

The 20-year-old rookie has been chosen to lead the attack at Eden Park, with Chris Noakes left out of the 23 following the Blues' opening loss to the Highlanders.

The star recruit, Benji Marshall, will cover Hickey from the bench.

Coach John Kirwan is full of praise for the former New Zealand under 20 player and has no doubts about his ability to deliver in the crucial contest.

Hickey will be joined in the starting 15 by his under 20 team-mate, Patrick Tuipolotu, who starts at lock and the 18-year-old wing, Tevita Li.

The All Blacks front rowers Keven Mealamu and Tony Woodcock will come off the bench in their first match of the season.

BLUES: Charles Piutau, Frank Halai, George Moala, Jackson Willison, Tevita Li, Simon Hickey, Piri Weepu, Peter Saili, Luke Braid/Brendon O'Connor, Steven Luatua, Tom Donnelly, Patrick Tuipulotu, Charlie Faumuina, James Parsons, Sam Prattley.

Reserves: Keven Mealamu, Tony Woodcock. Angus Ta'avao, Liaki Moli, O'Connor/Jordan Manihera, Bryn Hall, Benji Marshall, Pita Ahki.