UNDER-PERFORMING All Blacks lock Ali Williams has been demoted to the bench for the Blues’ clash against the Sharks in Auckland this Friday night.
It is one of three changes under-fire coach Pat Lam has made to the side which lost to the Melbourne Rebels last week, with blindside flanker Luke Braid returning from suspension and wider training group member Hadleigh Parkes named on the wing.
Williams has struggled for rhythm this season and after six relatively poor games has been replaced at lock by Liaki Moli.
Braid joins older brother Daniel in the loose trio, with Chris Lowrey shifting from blindside to No 8 in place of the injured Brad Mika.
Alby Mathewson is retained at halfback as Piri Weepu battles for fitness and Parkes comes in for Lachie Munro, who misses out on a spot in the match-day 22.
Parkes’ promotion means George Moala will provide outside back cover on the bench.
Blues: Rudi Wulf, Hadleigh Parkes, Benson Stanley, Ma’a Nonu, Rene Ranger, Gareth Anscombe, Alby Mathewson, Chris Lowrey, Daniel Braid, Luke Braid, Filo Paulo, Liaki Moli, Charlie Faumuina, Keven Mealamu (c), Tony Woodcock
Reserves: Tom McCartney, Tevita Mailau, Ali Williams, Peter Saili, Piri Weepu, Michael Hobbs, George Moala
With the series level, expect both teams to put it all on the line as they seek to win the deciding test in Sydney on Saturday night.