22 May 2014

Braid to return to Blues lineup

6:57 am on 22 May 2014

The Blues captain Luke Braid will return to captain the side against the South African based Sharks at North Harbour Stadium on Friday night.

Braid has missed the last two games against the Chiefs and Reds with a shoulder injury but after another week off with the bye, Braid is back to full fitness.

Friday's match against the Sharks is must win for the Blues if they're to keep their hopes of making the playoffs alive.

Braid's inclusion ahead of Brendon O'Connor is the only change to the forward pack.

Charles Piutau's knee injury has forced a reshuffle to the backline with Lolagi Visinia moving from fullback to wing and New Zealand Under 20 player Tevita Ling starting on the left flank.

Pita Ahki will start at centre in place of injured players Francis Saili and Jackson Willison.

Kirwan says Visinia, who has started the last four games and scored three tries, is beginning to deliver on his exciting promise after sorting out his preparation off the field.

Halfback Jamison Gibson-Park comes onto the bench in place of Piri Weepu who injured his groin playing club rugby in Wellington last week, while outside back Albert Nikoro is named in the squad for the first time this season.