Jerome Kaino will join French Top 14 side Toulouse after the current Super Rugby season. Photo: Gavin Barker/BackpagePix

AUCKLAND, New Zealand – The Blues will aim to give long-serving star Jerome Kaino a fitting send-off in his final game for the club when they take on the champions Crusaders in his last Super Rugby clash in Christchurch on Saturday.

Kaino, who heads to France after the season, will play his 139th game for the Blues on Saturday, to sit second on the all-time Blues list behind Keven Mealamu. The Blues will not dwell on the 16 players not considered for selection with injury, nor the disappointing season, but focus on a quality performance against the best team in their conference.

“This game means a lot. We want to send Jerome off in the best possible fashion,” said coach Tana Umaga. “We are going into a cauldron in Christchurch, but we have to go with eyes wide open and also take confidence from the game last week. We’ve worked on the areas that were pretty obvious in terms of our defence but there will be no lack of motivation to play against the Crusaders.

“Our forward effort was good last week but we know it needs to go another notch and I think some of the play by our backs, that in tough times they started to find their confidence. For us, we have to do well on both sides of the ball. We had some individual lapses in defence and that’s something we’ve worked on."

The only change from the pack from last week is a start for Ben Nee-Nee after an injury to replacement Matiaha Martin ruled him out, while the backline remains the same.

Blues team: 15 Matt Duffie, 14 Melani Nanai, 13 Michael Collins, 12 Rieko Ioane, 11 Caleb Clarke, 10 Stephen Perofeta, 9 Augustine Pulu (capt), 8 Akira Ioane, 7 Blake Gibson, 6 Jerome Kaino, 5 Ben Nee-Nee, 4 Gerard Cowley-Tuioti, 3 Ofa Tu'ungafasi, 2 Matt Moulds, 1 Alex Hodgman. Replacements: 16 Ross Wright, 17 Pauliasi Manu, 18 Sione Mafileo, 19 Jacob Pierce, 20 Murphy Taramai, 21 Sam Nock, 22 Bryn Gatland, 23 Tamati Tua.

African News Agency (ANA)

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