The Blues welcome back prop Alex Hodgman to the starting line-up for Saturday’s Investec Super Rugby clash against the Rebels at Eden Park at the earlier time of 5.15pm.
Hodgman is back after a wrist injury which has sidelined him for nine games.
The other change in the pack sees Northland captain Matt Moulds make his first start for the season, with the durable James Parsons not recovered from the head injury he received last week, which has led to a two-week suspension to Crusaders prop Owen Franks.
There is a second start for 2m Counties Manukau lock Matiaha Martin after impressing on debut as a late replacement for the Blues’ injury-hit locking stocks.
The Blues welcome their All Blacks Ofa Tuungafasi and Sonny Bill Williams back while Rieko Ioane takes his enforced All Black break this week, to allow try-scoring winger Tumua Manu his fourth game for the club on the left wing. Williams is bracketed with Bay of Plenty midfielder Terrence Hepetema after receiving a knock at the All Black camp this week.
Michael Collins, who returned from a four-game injury break, as a replacement last week, comes back into the starting line-up with an in-form Matt Duffie back to his accustomed spot on the right wing.
The curtain-raiser action sees a return of the Barfoot & Thompson Little Blues.
Four teams from the Under 9 years (35kg) grade from Takapuna, East Coast Bays, Papatoetoe and Waitakere will take part with action from 3.30pm and final at 4.10pm.
The game also coincides with the national campaign on Say My Name, to recognise the importance of pronouncing players’ names correctly.
Blues lock Matiaha Martin, who is a Te Reo Maori teacher at Tangaroa College, knows well the challenge of pronouncing names correctly.
“Say My Name is an awesome initiative. I know myself that people have struggled with my name,” said Matiaha. “Because it has happened so many times I have just brushed it off. But there’s mana to my name and it is nice if it is pronounced properly. People want to pronounce your English name properly so the same for Maori is nice.”
The team is:
15. Michael Collins, 14. Matt Duffie, 13. Orbyn Leger, 12. Sonny Bill Williams or Terrence Hepetema, 11. Tumua Manu, 10. Stephen Perofeta, 9. Augustine Pulu ©; 8. Akira Ioane, 7. Dalton Papalii, 6. Jerome Kaino, 5. Matiaha Martin, 4. Gerard Cowley-Tuioti, 3. Ofa Tuungafasi, 2. Matt Moulds, 1. Alex Hodgman
Not considered because of injury: Otere Black (knee – season), Blake Gibson (shoulder) and hamstring, Glenn Preston (groin, season), Scott Scrafton (knee – season), Matt Johnson (surgery – season), George Moala (chest – season), Tamati Tua (hand – season), Jimmy Tupou (knee – season), Josh Goodhue (concussion), Isaac Salmon (hand), Patrick Tuipulotu (shoulder – season), Kara Pryor (ankle), James Parsons (neck), Murphy Taramai (ankle).