Blues double up on flyhalves
Blues double up on flyhalvesSHARE
Bryn Gatland returns for his fifth start at flyhalf, with in-form Stephen Perofeta, who has started in the last three games at No.10, moving back to fullback.
It is not a position that is foreign to him, having played much of his time at Taranaki in that position, which offers him more room for his elusive running.
He starts at fullback with the other custodians Melani Nanai, Jordan Trainor and Michael Collins among the 18 walking-wounded not considered for selection by the Blues this week.
The tight five remains mostly intact with the versatile Jimmy Tupou moving into the second row – a role he has played often – alongside the in-form Patrick Tuipulotu who will be honoured after the game having achieved his 50th cap for the Blues in Japan.
Last year's New Zealand Under-20 player Dalton Papalii, impressive off the bench in Tokyo, gets his first start after injury earlier in the season, taking Tupou's spot on the flank.
In the backs Rieko Ioane moves back to his accustomed left wing where his battle with All Blacks teammate Waisaki Naholo should be a show-stopper, with Tinoai Faiane and Orbyn Leger paired in the midfield.
A storming debut with two tries for big Northland wing Jordan Hyland earns him a second start leaving All Black Matt Duffie to cover the back three spots off the bench.
Players not considered because of injury include Otere Black (knee – out for the seasonseason), Blake Gibson (shoulder), Glenn Preston (groin, season), Sonny Bill Williams (wrist), Augustine Pulu (foot), Alex Hodgman (wrist), Scott Scrafton (leg – season), Daniel Kirkpatrick (ribs), Melani Nanai (ankle), Jordan Trainor (hand), Matt Johnson (surgery – season), Jerome Kaino (hamstring), George Moala (chest – season), Josh Goodhue (shoulder), Tamati Tua (hand), Gerard Cowley-Tuioti (knee), Caleb Clarke (appendicitis), Michael Collins (hand).
Blues: 15 Stephen Perofeta, 14 Jordan Hyland, 13 Orbyn Leger, 12 Tinoai Faiane, 11 Rieko Ioane, 10 Bryn Gatland, 9 Jonathan Ruru, 8 Akira Ioane, 7 Kara Pryor, 6 Dalton Papalii, 5 Jimmy Tupou, 4 Patrick Tuipulotu, 3 Ofa Tuungafasi/Mike Tamoaieta, 2 James Parsons (captain), 1 Pauliasi Manu.
Replacements: 16 Matt Moulds/Leni Apisai, 17 Ross Wright, 18 Mike Tamoaieta/Sione Mafileo, 19 Ben Neenee, 20 Murphy Taramai, 21 Sam Nock, 22 Tumua Manu, 23 Matt Duffie.
Date: Friday, April 20
Venue: Eden Park, Auckland
Kick-off: 19.35 (07.35 GMT)
Referee: Marius van der Westhuizen
Assistant referees: Angus Mabey, Mike Lash
TMO: Ben Skeen