The Blues welcome back All Blacks Ofa Tuungafasi and Sonny Bill Williams for Saturday’s Super Rugby clash against the Rebels at Eden Park while Rieko Ioane takes his enforced All Black break.


Williams is bracketed with Bay of Plenty midfielder Terrence Hepetema after receiving a knock at the All Black camp this week. Tumua Manu will play his fourth game for the club, starting on the left wing in place of Ioane.

The Blues also welcome back prop Alex Hodgman to the starting line-up.

Hodgman is back after a wrist injury which sidelined him for nine games.

The other change in the pack sees Northland captain Matt Moulds make his first start for the season, with James Parsons not recovered from the head injury he received last week.

Counties Manukau lock Matiaha Martin earns a second start after impressing on debut as a late replacement for the Blues’ injury-hit locking stocks.

Michael Collins, who returned from a four-game injury break, as a replacement last week, comes back into the starting line-up at fullback with an in-form Matt Duffie back to his accustomed spot on the right wing.

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The game also coincides with the national Say My Name campaign, 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.”


15. Michael Collins, 14. Matt Duffie, 13. Orbyn Leger, 12. Sonny Bill Williams/Terrence Hepetema, 11. Tumua Manu, 10. Stephen Perofeta, 9. Augustine Pulu (C); 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.
Reserves: 16. Leni Apisai, 17. Pauliasi Manu, 18. Sione Mafileo, 19. Ben Nee-Nee, 20. Sione Havili, 21. Jonathan Ruru, 22. Bryn Gatland, 23 TJ Faiane/Terrence Hepetema.

In other news:

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