Auckland - Blues head coach Pat Lam finally has the luxury of naming a full strength front row for Thursday's Super Rugby match against the Rebels in Melbourne, with Keven Mealamu returning from injury to partner All Blacks team-mate Tony Woodcock and Charlie Faumuina in the engine room.
Kick-off is 11:40 SA time.
According to the allblacks.com website
, it will be the first time Woodcock and Mealamu have played together since the 2011 Rugby World Cup final, with Mealamu suffering a calf injury following the Stormers game just as Woodcock returned to action after an extended period of leave.
The inclusion of the inspirational Blues captain is one of four changes to the starting XV for Thursday must-win match.
Rene Ranger returns from suspension to start on the left wing, with Rudi Wulf shifting to fullback as Lachie Munro starts on the right wing in place of the injured David Raikuna.
Rising star Gareth Anscombe will start at flyhalf ahead of Piri Weepu and Michael Hobbs, with the latter two players both named on the bench.
Despite an impressive performance in his Blues debut against the Hurricanes, lock Liaki Moli has been unwell for the past week and has been unable to train with the team, paving the way for Filo Paulo to join Ali Williams in the locking department.Teams:
15 Kurtley Beale, 14 Lachlan Mitchell, 13 Mitch Inman, 12 James O'Connor, 11 Mark Gerrard, 10 Danny Cipriani, 9 Nick Phipps, 8 Gareth Delve (captain), 7 Michael Lipman, 6 Jarrod Saffy, 5 Hugh Pyle, 4 Luke Jones, 3 Rodney Blake, 2 Adam Freier, 1 Nic Henderson
Substitutes: 16 Ged Robinson, 17 Laurie Weeks, 18 Alister Campbell, 19 Tim Davidson, 20 Richard Kingi, 21 Julian Huxley, 22 Lloyd Johansson Blues:
15 Rudi Wulf, 14 Lachie Munro, 13 Benson Stanley, 12 Ma'a Nonu, 11 Rene Ranger, 10 Gareth Anscombe, 9 Alby Mathewson, 8 Brad Mika, 7 Daniel Braid, 6 Chris Lowrey, 5 Ali Williams, 4 Filo Paulo, 3 Charlie Faumuina, 2 Keven Mealamu, 1 Tony Woodcock
Substitutes: 16 Tom McCartney, 17 Tevita Mailau, 18 Liaki Moli, 19 Dan Pryor, 20 Piri Weepu, 21 Michael Hobbs, 22 Hadleigh Parkes