Blues look to snap dismal away streak

Lock Josh Bekhuis will bring up 100 Super Rugby appearances when he runs out against the Queensland Reds, and the milestone will be the sweeter if the Blues can end a dismal record on the road.

The Auckland-based franchise haven’t won away from home since June 2014, or before Bekhuis moved north after 82 appearances for the Highlanders.

“I think it’s pretty important changing that trend,” he said.

“But firstly, we have to think on a weekly basis and, for that, your mindset has to be to win, no matter if it’s home or away. It starts upstairs.”

Under new coach Tana Umaga, the Blues have travelled once this season, losing 28-13 to the Crusaders, who dominated at set piece.

Bekhuis will head to Suncorp Stadium on Saturday confident the pack took a step forward with their performance in the 23-19 defeat to the Hurricanes last weekend.

“The way the boys changed it around, we’re quite happy with,” he said.

“It’s just about making sure we carry that on for this weekend.”

While the Blues have had one win from the first three rounds, the Reds are 0-3.

Umaga has made two changes to his starting 15, including giving teenage speedster Rieko Ioane his Super Rugby debut.

Ioane, who turns 19 on the eve of the match, replaces former All Black Rene Ranger on the right wing.

Like older brother Akira, Ioane is a New Zealand Sevens representative and the pair starred in two tournaments on the world circuit before rejoining the Blues in February.

Assistant coach Glenn Moore cited Ioane’s form in training and in pre-season matches for his inclusion.

Ranger, who is coming back from a long layoff after neck surgery, isn’t among the reserves.

One reason is that the Blues have opted for a six-two forwards-backs split on the bench, with Moore citing the heat and humidity in Brisbane and the pack’s workload already.

Another is taking care with Ranger’s return.

“He’s had a fairly serious injury,” Moore said.

“He hasn’t played a lot of rugby and we’re just making sure we manage him back.”

In the forwards, lock Patrick Tuipulotu moves off the bench to replace Steven Luatua, who reverts to No.8 after a starting appearance in the engine room.

Akira Ioane, who began at No.8 against the Hurricanes, drops to the reserves.

Blues: Lolagi Visinia, Rieko Ioane, Male Sa’u, George Moala, Tevita Li, Ihaia West, Bryn Hall, Steven Luatua, Blake Gibson, Jerome Kaino (capt), Josh Bekhuis, Patrick Tuipulotu, Charlie Faumuina, James Parsons, Ofa Tu’ungafasi. Reserves: Quentin MacDonald, Nic Mayhew, Sione Mafileo, Hoani Matenga, Akira Ioane, Kara Pryor, Billy Guyton, Matt McGahan.

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