With 19 players on the injured list last week, the Blues have named captain Augustine Pulu and Gerard Cowley-Tuioti for a return from injury, although captain Pulu is bracketed.
They will be without two starters from last week, with midfielder TJ Faiane out for at least two weeks with an ankle sprain and lock Patrick Tuipulotu out with illness.
“It is definitely nice to see some players back out running with the team on the training field, but for those bracketed, it will depend how they come through our contact session this afternoon,” said head coach Tana Umaga.
“While our injured list has been well publicised, equally we do not want to rush players back, especially those who have been out of action for some time. We have who are close to full fitness but their long-term health and welfare is our main priority and we won’t rush them back.”
Kara Pryor will need to come through training today after a knock in last week’s game and is bracketed with Dalton Papalii at openside flanker.
Injuries to three key midfielders mean that Rieko Ioane moves back to the midfield with Orbyn Leger while Tumua Manu, who scored a try off the bench in his debut last week, gets a start on the left wing. All Black Matt Duffie starts at fullback.
In light of the injury situation, Umaga will name his reserves closer to the game.
1. Pauliasi Manu, 2. James Parsons (C), 3. Sione Mafileo, 4. Gerard Cowley-Tuioti, 5. Josh Goodhue, 6. Jimmy Tupou, 7. Kara Pryor/Dalton Papalii, 8. Akira Ioane; 9. Augustine Pulu/Jonathan Ruru, 10. Stephen Perofeta, 11. Tumua Manu, 12. Rieko Ioane, 13. Orbyn Leger, 14. Jordan Hyland,15. Matt Duffie.
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