Hurricanes claim narrow win over Blues

An unlikely brace of tries to lock Mark Abbott underpinned Saturday's win, the defending champions' sixth from seven matches this season.

Poor handling and some questionable option-taking again let the Blues down, the loss leaving the Aucklanders at the bottom of the New Zealand conference with just three wins from eight starts.

First blood went to the Hurricanes after three minutes when Abbott bulldozed over from close range, punishing some loose Blues defence around the ruck.

Sonny Bill Williams sports his new jersey for Blues against Hurricanes

Sonny Bill Williams sported his newly-designed Blues jersey at Auckland's Eden Park tonight in his side's Super Rugby match against the Hurricanes.

The jersey was adorned with the Plunket logo stitched on to both sides of the collar.

New Zealand Rugby and the Blues this week to Williams' request to have advertising from BNZ and Investec removed from his jersey.

Williams raised eyebrows last week when he taped over the BNZ logo on the collar of his Blues jersey.

SBW made a mistake

Williams covered up the BNZ logo on his blues jersey in their match against the Highlanders last weekend due to religious beliefs.

NZR and the Blues have now given him permission have the logos of two banks, BNZ and Investec, removed from his kit.

NZR General Manager of Rugby, Neil Sorenson, said conscientious objections have

been in the collective employment agreement for almost ten years.

Sonny Bill Williams likely to have special jersey

Stuff understands a statement is being prepared from New Zealand Rugby, the Blues, Investec and the BNZ on Tuesday. All are expected to state they have no issue with Williams' conscientious objection to wearing bank logos on his playing shirt. The hold-up is waiting for comment from Investec's office in South Africa.  

Blues don't know why Williams taped up logo

The taped-up collar was obvious when the All Black centre came off the bench in the Blues game against the Highlanders in Dunedin on Saturday night.

It was understood Williams, who is Muslim, covered the logo for religious reasons.

Muslims believe the charging of interest is prohibited by the Quran.

As a part of their collective agreement any player can lodge a conscientious objection to promoting finance, alcohol, tobacco, gambling companies and banks.

Blues squander lead in loss to Highlanders

Trailing 20-13 at halftime, the vastly-improved hosts slowly wrestled control of a clash between the two bottom-placed teams in the New Zealand Conference and retained the Gordon Hunter Memorial Trophy.

One of the few highlights of a scoreless second half for the Blues was the debut of cross code star Sonny Bill Williams, ending eight months out of rugby after rupturing his Achilles tendon at the Rio Olympics.

All Blacks midfield back Williams made one lightning break and offload but otherwise had little impact as the Highlanders dominated the closing stages.

SBW set for Blues debut

Williams hasn't played since rupturing his Achilles at the Rio Olympics in August.

He's one of three players welcomed back by the Blues with Steven Luatua returning after suspension and fellow loose forward Blake Gibson from injury.

All Black Rieko Ioane earns a recall to the starting line-up at centre after a big contribution off the bench in the win over the Western Force last weekend.

Bryn Gatland in line for Blues debut

West suffered an ankle injury after coming off the bench in the scrappy Blues win over the Force at Eden Park last Saturday, and could now be sidelined for at least a month.

With young Taranaki first five-eighth Stephen Perofeta also battling an ankle complaint, the Blues are likely to persist with Piers Francis at No 10 and include Gatland as cover on the bench for Friday night's clash with the Highlanders in Dunedin. 

West lost his starting role to Francis but has shown spark off the bench, injecting his attacking skills late as the Blues secured successive wins.

Blues beat Western Force

The Force came out wanting to prove their worth as speculation around the club's future in Super Rugby surrounds the team.

The Force got on the scoreboard first with a penalty, before a try to Richie Arnold on debut had them leading the Blues 8-0.

The Blues lacked possession early in the game but started clicking into gear.

A couple of late tries at the end of the first half to Akira Ioane and Matt Duffie put the Blues ahead 12-8.

Collins sticks as Blues 'glue guy'

It's a tag that fits his laidback, level-headed southern approach, the jovial first-year import from Otago so far making an excellent fist of his surprise elevation into the fullback's role for the Blues' Super Rugby campaign.

But battler doesn't do justice to the growing poise the 23-year-old is showing at the back for the Blues, where his steadiness, decision-making, communication and playmaking ability are starting to bear fruit for a side which hosts the struggling Force at Eden Park in the Saturday 5.15pm matinee.