RUGBY WORLD Cup-winning All Blacks Ma’a Nonu, Ali Williams and Piri Weepu have been demoted to the bench for the Blues’ match against the Highlanders in Auckland on Saturday night.
Under-fire coach Pat Lam has taken a sharp axe to his side, making 13 changes to the 22 following last weekend’s 59-12 shellacking at the hands of the Crusaders.
Nonu, Williams and Weepu have paid the price for their dismal showings in the loss to the red and blacks, with their positions going to Francis Saili, Filo Paulo and Alby Mathewson respectively.
Other alterations made by Lam see Sherwin Stowers get a rare start on the left wing and James Parsons replace Tom McCartney at hooker.
The Blues lost 30-27 to the Highlanders when the two teams met in Dunedin earlier this season.
Blues: Hadleigh Parkes, David Raikuna, Francis Saili, Michael Hobbs, Sherwin Stowers, Gareth Anscombe, Alby Mathewson; Peter Saili/Luke Braid, Luke Braid/Daniel Braid, Steven Luatua, Filo Paulo, Liaki Moli, Tevita Mailau, James Parsons, Tony Woodcock
Reserves: Tom McCartney, Angus Ta’avao, Ali Williams, Daniel Braid / Peter Saili / Dan Pryor, Piri Weepu, Ma'a Nonu, Lachie Munro
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.