Vidiri dropped, Mika not even on the Blues plane
May 10, 2000
All Blacks flanker Dylan Mika has missed out on the travelling squad while winger Joeli Vidiri has been benched for the Auckland Blues' final tilt at making the Super 12 rugby semi-finals.
The Blues head to Brisbane on Friday to take on Queensland, needing a win to get them into the semi-finals. With specialist openside flanker Justin Collins back from a groin injury, coach Gordon Hunter had to make a choice between the hard-tackling Mika and the in-form All Blacks flanker Andrew Blowers.
Finau Maka's form off the bench and his versatility meant Hunter had no choice but to leave Mika at home. The Blues also regained lock Charles Riechelmann who missed the two games in South Africa after being rucked in the head and shoulder.
Hunter has also kept faith with five-eighth Carlos Spencer who was errant with his kicking game last weekend. Spencer struggled through last weekend's game with knee pains but he was cleared to play on Saturday night.
"Carlos has been checked by the medical staff, and we believe he will be able to do the job," Hunter said. "If he isn't able to get through the preparations then Orene Ai'i will go into five-eighth."
As far as Mika was concerned, Hunter admitted he was having to try to make the correct call with the make up of his side.
"It is a big call (leaving Mika behind), Dylan is an All Black and at this stage he is the player who will remain behind when we go to Australia," he said. "Andrew (Blowers) has been playing well at blindside and Justin has been playing well at openside flanker and that is the way it sits."
Hunter said his decision on Vidiri was "a form issue".
Eroni Clarke's defence and organisational capability is something he is looking to in order to get the Blues backline functioning. Iliesa Tanivula's greater defensive ability out wide earned him the nod ahead of Vidiri whom Hunter intends using as an impact player.
Auckland Blues: Adrian Cashmore, Iliesa Tanivula, Eroni Clarke, Craig Innes, Doug Howlett, Carlos Spencer, Steve Devine, Xavier Rush, Justin Collins, Robin Brooke (captain), Troy Flavell, Andrew Blowers, Craig Dowd, Davin Heaps, Paul Thomson.
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