Head coach Tana Umaga has named young first five-eighth Stephen Perofeta at fullback as a replacement, with Bryn Gatland recalled to the starting side in the 10 jersey. The Rieko Ioane midfield experiment appears over with the All Black returning to the left wing position. TJ Faiane and former New Zealand under-20’s rep Orbyn Leger will start in the midfield.
Jimmy Tupou will partner Patrick Tuipulotu in the second row, while another New Zealand age grade rep will get his first start at blindside in Dalton Papali’i.
The Blues return home for six-game stretch at Eden Park starting with the Highlanders on Friday night which will bring some stability to the side.
“But we are home for the next few games and we want to make this our fortress, starting on Friday.”
“All clubs have injuries and we are no different. But it gives opportunities for other players to stand up and bring some real enthusiasm.
“We have improved over the last two weeks and we now have to step up to another level in every facet. Our record against other New Zealand team is well documented so we want to make to make our homecoming a special one.”
The young Blues side will be looking to break an intra-conference draught of 14 winless games, having won just one of the last 25 games against Kiwi opposition.
BLUES: Stephen Perofeta, Jordan Hyland, Orbyn Leger, TJ Faiane, Rieko Ioane, Bryn Gatland, Jonathan Ruru; Akira Ioane, Kara Pryor, Dalton Papali’i, Jimmy Tupou, Patrick Tuipulotu, Ofa Tu’ungafasi/Mike Tamoaieta, James Parsons (capt), Pauliasi Manu. Reserves: Matt Moulds/Leni Apisai, Ross Wright, Tamoaieta/Sione Mafileo, Ben Neenee, Murphy Taramai, Sam Nock, Tumua Manu, Matt Duffie.
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