Blues skipper rested for Lions duel
Blues coach Leon MacDonald has named his team for their Super Rugby clash against the Lions at Eden Park in Auckland on Saturday.
Kick-off is scheduled for 05:25 (SA time).
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With captain Patrick Tuipulotu to sit out his All Black rest, along with Ofa Tu'ungafasi, 46-game veteran Gerard Cowley-Tuioti gets his first start of the season after coming off the bench in his first game back from an injury.
There's a strong look to the pack, with in-form Karl Tu'inukuafe joining 110-cap hooker James Parsons and Sione Mafileo, playing his 49th time for the Blues, forming the front row, while All Black Dalton Papalii returns from his break to join Blake Gibson and Hoskins Sotutu in the loose forwards.
The backline is virtually unchanged with Matt Duffie, like his North Harbour mate Mafileo, playing his 49th game to give Joe Marchant his first spell of the season with inside centre TJ Faiane to take over the captaincy.
There is plenty of impact to come off the bench especially Akira Ioane, who covers all three loose forward spots, and impressed against the Hurricanes last week.
Southland replacement prop Joe Walsh is set to earn his debut for the Blues off the bench along with hooker Luteru Tolai, who made an excellent job as replacement in the win over the Stormers in Cape Town.
15 Stephen Perofeta, 14 Matt Duffie, 13 Rieko Ioane, 12 TJ Faiane (captain), 11 Mark Telea, 10 Otere Black, 9 Sam Nock, 8 Hoskins Sotutu, 7 Blake Gibson, 6 Dalton Papalii, 5 Jacob Pierce, 4 Gerard Cowley-Tuioti, 3 Sione Mafileo, 2 James Parsons, 1 Karl Tu'inukuafe
Substitutes: 16 Luteru Tolai, 17 Joe Walsh, 18 Marcel Renata, 19 Aaron Carroll/Sam Caird, 20 Akira Ioane, 21 Jonathan Ruru, 22 Harry Plummer, 23 Emoni Narawa
15 Tyrone Green, 14 Jamba Ulengo, 13 Manuel Rass, 12 Dan Kriel, 11 Courtnall Skosan, 10 Elton Jantjies (captain), 9 Andre Warner, 8 Hacjivah Dayimani, 7 Ruan Vermaak, 6 Marnus Schoeman, 5 Marvin Orie, 4 Willem Alberts, 3 Frans van Wyk, 2 Jan-Hemming Campher, 1 Dylan Smith
Substitutes: 16 Pieter Jansen, 17 Sti Sithole, 18 Carlu Sadie, 19 Wilhelm van der Sluys, 20 Len Massyn, 21 Morne van den Berg, 22 Shaun Reynolds, 23 Andries Coetzee
- Blues Rugby