PIRI WEEPU will play first five when the Blues take on the Hurricanes in Auckland on Friday night.
Injuries and suspensions have forced coach Pat Lam to make a number of changes to his squad for the must-win New Zealand derby clash at Eden Park.
Weepu shifts one out from halfback, replacing Gareth Anscombe at pivot, with Alby Mathewson to wear the No 9 jersey.
Anscombe suffered a nose fracture during last weekend’s 27-17 loss to the Stormers in Cape Town, but has been included on the bench.
It is an injury-hit Blues side which limps into this clash against the Hurricanes.
It was revealed today that fullback Isaia Toeava's hip injury is worse than first thought and he could miss the rest of the season.
Loose forward Jerome Kaino has already been ruled out for the remainder of the campaign with a shoulder injury. Anthony Boric and captain Keven Mealamu will miss this match due to a neck injury and calf strain respectively.
Those respective aliments have forced Lam to make several alterations to his match-day 22.
Lock Liaki Moli will make his Super Rugby debut, Chris Lowrey starts at blindside for the suspended Luke Braid and Brad Mika will pack down at No 8.
Openside flanker Daniel Braid will captain the team in the absence of Mealamu.
In more positive news, Tony Woodcock returns at loosehead prop after sitting out the first four weeks to recover from niggles, while wings Rudi Wulf and David Raikuna are back from injury and will start the match.
Three wider training squad members – James Parsons, Sean Polwart and Hadleigh Parks – are on the bench.
So too is five-eighths Michael Hobbs, who re-joins the side following the death of his father Jock last week.
Blues: Lachie Munro, David Raikuna, Benson Stanley, Ma'a Nonu, Rudi Wulf, Piri Weepu, Alby Mathewson, Brad Mika, Daniel Braid (c), Chris Lowrey, Ali Williams, Liaki Moli, Charlie Faumuina, Tom McCartney, Tony Woodcock
Reserves: James Parsons, Tevita Mailau, Filo Paulo, Sean Polwart, Gareth Anscombe, Michael Hobbs, Hadleigh Parkes
All the fixtures you need to plan your viewing pleasure!
Not all our own way for NZ teams
Pressure is on Benji, but shouldn't we remember SBW went to France (Toulon) for 2 years to learn the game.
With all of the news around concussion do you think there should be safety measures in place for players to ensure they don't play on after a head know? How and who should police that?
With the start of club rugby upon us, how can we maintain the value of the clubs in player pathways and community spirit.