Sonny Bill ruled out after head knock

first_imgPhoto By: MATT KING/GETTY IMAGES (Sonny Bill Williams will sit out the Blues game against the Cheetahs after his head knock last weekend). Williams copped a knee to the head in Sydney last week and, under return to play guidelines, has been forced to sit out this week.The good news is Williams has been symptom free for two days and Blues coach Tana Umaga expects the second five-eighth to be on the plane and fit to play in Cape Town next weekend.”He’s much improved today but he’s got to through the protocols until he is symptom free so that probably wouldn’t have him right for this weekend so we didn’t want to run that risk,” Umaga said.TJ Faiane assumes Williams’ place at No 12 inside George Moala.On a positive note for both the Blues and All Blacks, the troubling back compliant that’s kept Tuipulotu out since round six has settled, and he’s been thrown straight back into the starting line-up.The Blues second-row comprising Scott Scrafton and Gerard Cowley-Tuioti have formed a quality partnership in recent weeks but Umaga is confident Tuipulotu’s formidable frame can add similar impact.Cowley-Tuioti makes way for Tuipulotu’s return.”He was pretty excited when we told him he was going to be starting this week.  We want to make sure we get some of that excitement on the field and in the right areas.”Other changes see Melani Nanai get his long-awaited chance to start at fullback and former sevens star Declan O’Donnell will make his debut on the right wing. Matt Duffie and Michael Collins, who have started in all 10 games this year, have been spelled, though Collins is on the bench.The Blues also welcome back a raft of players from injury on the bench.They include prop Alex Hodgman who will make his Blues debut, Kara Pryor who played 13 times last season, Ihaia West who has missed four games with an ankle strain, and halfback Sam Nock, while Hame Faiva replaces an injured Matt Moulds.Successive wins in Australia over the Brumbies and Waratahs kept the Blues’ playoff hopes alive but they still need to win every match from here. Given the circumstances, a bonus point win against the attacking-minded Cheetahs is a must. Team: Melani Nanai, Declan O’Donnell, George Moala, TJ Faiaine, Rieko Ioane, Piers Francis, Augustine Pulu, Akira Ioane, Blake Gibson, Steven Luatua, Scott Scrafton, Patrick Tuipulotu, Charlie Faumuina, James Parsons (c), Pauliasi Manu. Replacements: Hame Faiva, Alex Hodgman, Ofa Tu’ungafasi, Gerard Cowley-Tuioti, Kara Pryor, Sam Nock, Ihaia West, Michael Collins.last_img