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Hodgman returns for Blues against Rebels

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Auckland’s Blues will welcome back prop Alex Hodgman to their starting line up for this Saturday’s match against the Rebels at Eden Park.

Hodgman is back after a wrist injury which has sidelined him for nine games.

The other change in the pack sees Northland captain Matt Moulds make his first start for the season, with the durable James Parsons not recovered from the head injury he received last week, which has led to a two-week suspension to Crusaders prop Owen Franks.

There is a second start for 2m Counties Manukau lock Matiaha Martin after impressing on debut as a late replacement for the Blues’ injury-hit locking stocks.

The Blues welcome their All Blacks Ofa Tuungafasi and Sonny Bill Williams back while Rieko Ioane takes his enforced All Black break this week, to allow try-scoring winger Tumua Manu his fourth game for the club on the left wing.

Williams is bracketed with Bay of Plenty midfielder Terrence Hepetema after receiving a knock at the All Black camp this week.

Michael Collins, who returned from a four-game injury break, as a replacement last week, comes back into the starting line-up with an in-form Matt Duffie back to his accustomed spot on the right wing.

Otere Black (knee – season), Blake Gibson (shoulder) and hamstring, Glenn Preston (groin, season), Scott Scrafton (knee – season), Matt Johnson (surgery – season), George Moala (chest – season), Tamati Tua (hand – season), Jimmy Tupou (knee – season), Josh Goodhue (concussion), Isaac Salmon (hand), Patrick Tuipulotu (shoulder – season), Kara Pryor (ankle), James Parsons (neck), Murphy Taramai (ankle) were all not considered for selection due to injury.

Blues

15. Michael Collins, 14. Matt Duffie, 13. Orbyn Leger, 12. Sonny Bill Williams or Terrence Hepetema, 11. Tumua Manu, 10. Stephen Perofeta, 9. Augustine Pulu ©; 8. Akira Ioane, 7. Dalton Papalii, 6. Jerome Kaino, 5. Matiaha Martin, 4. Gerard Cowley-Tuioti, 3. Ofa Tuungafasi, 2. Matt Moulds, 1. Alex Hodgman

Replacements: 16. Leni Apisai, 17. Pauliasi Manu, 18. Sione Mafileo, 19. Ben Nee-Nee, 20. Sione Havili, 21. Jonathan Ruru, 22. Bryn Gatland, 23 TJ Faiane or Terrence Hepetema.

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