Auckland Blues

Super Rugby: Sonny Bill Williams to start, Ma'a Nonu off bench in Blues' finale

For Williams, though, the stakes are a little bit higher as the 33-year-old, who has missed almost the entire back half of the season after requiring surgery to his knee, seeks to prove his fitness ahead of the international campaign, and a tilt at a third straight World Cup with the All Blacks.

Blues out of playoff race

The fitting farewell for loose forward Scott Higginbotham and captain Samu Kerevi looked unlikely with the Reds trailing 21-5 after 23 minutes following a sluggish start.

But the hosts clawed back the deficit and secured just their sixth win of the season.

Higginbotham's first-half try, following good work by Kerevi and winger Jock Campbell, made him the first forward to notch 40 Super Rugby tries.

His effort came either side of tries to Blues' pair Tanielu Tele'a and Augustine Pulu after captain Blake Gibson opened the scoring after just three minutes.

Broke Rupeni Caucaunibuca wants others to learn from his mistakes in life

The former Blues winger was one of the stars of the 2003 Rugby World Cup and signed mega deals to play in France which should have set him up for life.

However, Caucaunibua has said in a short documentary called Oceans Apart for the Pacific Rugby Players' Welfare organisation that the money's all gone, spent on alcohol and handouts.

After firstly playing provincial rugby for Northland, Caucaunibuca went on to score some of the greatest tries ever seen in Super Rugby for the Blues.

Blues coaches backing SBW trip

The Muslim All Blacks midfielder's trip south means he will miss the Auckland-based franchise's Super Rugby match against the Highlanders at Eden Park on Friday night.

Assistant coach Tom Coventry said the coaches thought it would be a good idea, even before Williams made the request.

"We were going to ask Sonny if he'd like to make the decision to go.

"We were all in agreeance, it was a pretty short conversation.

"We all knew how hard he took it, so it was a simple decision to make."

Blues keep Aussie teams winless

Not even the return of an inspired Israel Folau could save the Waratahs from suffering a 38th straight defeat for Australian teams against New Zealand opposition in Super Rugby.

Topping the Australian conference and up against the cellar dwellers from the New Zealand conference, the Waratahs had been well fancied to snap the near-two- year run of losses in trans-Tasman encounters.

The Blues had won just two of their nine matches in 2018 to be all but out of finals contention.

Umaga changes Blues backline

Bryn Gatland returns to start at first five, with Stephen Perofeta dropping back to fullback.

Rieko Ioane moves back to his accustomed left wing with TJ Faiane and Orbyn Leger paired in the midfield.

Jimmy Tupou moves to lock, with Dalton Papalii starting on the flank.

Blues: 1. Pauliasi Manu, 2. James Parsons, 3. Ofa Tuungafasi/Mike Tamoaieta, 4. Patrick Tuipulotu, 5. Jimmy Tupou, 6. Dalton Papalii, 7. Kara Pryor, 8. Akira Ioane; 9. Jonathan Ruru, 10. Bryn Gatland, 11. Rieko Ioane, 12. TJ Faiane, 13. Orbyn Leger, 14. Jordan Hyland,15. Stephen Perofeta.

SBW’s return upon us

The Blues midfielder is available for selection for this weekend's Super Rugby match against the Highlanders in Dunedin.

Williams hasn't played rugby since rupturing his achilles tendon during the New Zealand Sevens' Rio Olympics campaign.

While the 31-year-old is considered fit to play, a minor foot injury could halt his return for another week.

RNZ reports the 23-man team will be named on Thursday.

Meanwhile the Blues first five troubles continue to go from bad to worse with Ihaia West ruled out for at least three weeks with an ankle injury.

Former All Black's drink drive woes

RNZ reports Ranger appeared at the Waitakere District Court yesterday and pleaded guilty to charges of careless driving and drink driving.

He was convicted, and disqualified from driving for seven months, fined $800 and ordered to pay court costs.

Blues Rugby Chief Executive Michael Redman said that it was disappointing Ranger had found himself in this position.

"We are disappointed in the poor choice that Rene made, especially for a player of his experience.