Internationals Jerome Kaino, Patrick Tuipulotu, Ofa Tu’ungafasi and Male Sa’u return to the Blues line-up for Saturday’s Investec Super Rugby match against the Hurricanes in Wellington.
Kaino, Tu’ungafasi and Tuipulotu were involved with the All Blacks series against Wales while Sa’u played for Japan against Scotland.
They will be welcome additions to the Blues, who have lost All Blacks Charlie Faumuina and third test star George Moala to injury.
There’s a relatively settled look to the side with a strong forward pack built around five current or former All Blacks, with the backs built around the core inside trio of Bryn Hall, Ihaia West and Piers Francis.
Sa’u, who played on the wing for Japan in their international series at home, will return to his usual role of centre for the injured Moala.
There is a welcome return of loose forward Blake Gibson to the reserves after missing six games after surgery to his thumb.
The potential debutant is young North Harbour lock Gerard Cowley-Tuioti, bracketed with Hoani Matenga, who is ill.
It is the final New Zealand derby match for the Blues who will complete their regular season with homes games against the Brumbies (Friday 8 July) and the Waratahs (Friday 15 July), both at Eden Park.
The team is:
Sam Prattley, James Parsons ©, Ofa Tu’ungafasi, Patrick Tuipulotu, Josh Bekhuis, Jerome Kaino, Kara Pryor, Steven Luatua; Bryn Hall, Ihaia West, Tevita Li, Piers Francis, Male S’au, Matt Duffie, Melani Nanai.
Reserves: Quentin MacDonald, Namatahi Waa, Sione Mafileo, Gerard Cowley-Tuioti/Hoani Matenga, Blake Gibson, Billy Guyton, Matt McGahan, Matt Vaega/Lolagi Visinia.
Not considered with injury: TJ Faiane, Ben Lam, Rene Ranger (all rest of Super season); Tanerau Latimer (calf strain), Jordan Trainor (hip flexor), Charlie Faumuina (knee ligament sprain), George Moala (elbow ligament).