14 Feb 2015

Cowan, SBW to make Super Rugby returns

11:46 am on 14 February 2015

Former All Blacks halfback Jimmy Cowan will start for the Blues in their Super Rugby opener against the Chiefs at North Harbour Stadium on Saturday.

Jimmy Cowan

Jimmy Cowan Photo: PHOTOSPORT

Cowan, who is playing his first Super Rugby match since leaving New Zealand to play for Gloucester three years ago, has been given the nod to start ahead of Bryn Hall.

He will play inside Hawke's Bay first five-eighth Ihaia West, who has secured the starting No.10 jersey with Daniel Bowden out injured.

Blues coach Sir John Kirwan says he's pleased with what Cowan's brought to the mix and is happy with his inside back combination.

"He's brought his leadership with him and we've asked him to do a job and he's been delivering. And Ihaia's just continued to grow and we're really happy with him so you know we need him to step up and take control of the rugby team which he did last year, which he did at the Bay and we're expecting him to just continue to grow in there."

The captain, Jerome Kaino, will start at number eight after battling ilness throughout the week, while George Moala has been named at centre, subject to clearance on a slight knee injury.

Meanwhile the Chiefs first five-eighth Damian McKenzie will make his Super Rugby debut in the match starting at No.10.

And Sonny Bill Williams will play his first Super Rugby game in more than two years after being named to start at second five-eighth.