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Injury hit Blues name team to play Jaguares

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The Blues injury woes have continued this week and the Auckland side hope to have some returning players for r Super Rugby clash against the Jaguares at Eden Park on Saturday.

With 19 players on the injured list last week, the Blues have named captain Augustine Pulu and Gerard Cowley-Tuioti for a return from injury, although captain Pulu is bracketed for Saturday’s clash.

They have lost two further players from last week with midfielder TJ Faiane out for at least two weeks with an ankle sprain and lock Patrick Tuipulotu, who has been unwell this week.

“It is definitely nice to see some players back out running with the team on the training field, but for those bracketed, it will depend how they come through our contact session this afternoon,” said head coach Tana Umaga.

“While our injured list has been well publicised, equally we do not want to rush players back, especially those who have been out of action for some time. We have who are close to full fitness but their long-term health and welfare is our main priority and we won’t rush them back.”

Others have been rewarded with good form in training with North Harbour prop Sione Mafileo having his first start while hooker Leni Apisai comes on to the bench after an excellent performance for the Blues A team against Japan A last week.

Northland’s Kara Pryor will need to come through training today after a knock in last week’s game and is bracketed with Dalton Papalii at loose forward.

Injuries to three key midfielders mean that Rieko Ioane moves back to the midfield with Orbyn Leger while Tumua Manu, who scored a try off the bench in his debut last week, gets a start on the left wing joining Jordan Hyland on the right wing and All Black Matt Duffie starting at fullback.

Update : a training injury suffered by Jimmy Tupou, ruling him out of Saturday’s match. Halfback Augustine Pulu returns to come off the bench.

Gerard Cowley-Tuioti, Josh Goodhue, Dan Kirkpatrick and Kara Pryor return from injuries while there will be a debut start for Tumua Manu on the wing.

There will be potential debuts for Blues A team lock Lyndon Dunshea and London-born Bay of Plenty back Terrence Hepetema (who has been with the Highlanders).

Otere Black (knee – season), Blake Gibson (shoulder), Glenn Preston (groin, season), Sonny Bill Williams (wrist), Alex Hodgman (wrist), Scott Scrafton (leg – season), Daniel Kirkpatrick (ribs), Melani Nanai (ankle), Matt Johnson (surgery – season), Jerome Kaino (hamstring), George Moala (chest – season), TJ Faiane (ankle), Josh Goodhue (shoulder), Tamati Tua (hand), Caleb Clarke (appendicitis), Michael Collins (hand), Ofa Tuungafasi (knee). All Black stand-down: Patrick Tuipulotu (illness) were all unavailable for selection.

Blues

1.Pauliasi Manu, 2. James Parsons ©, 3. Sione Mafileo, 4. Gerard Cowley-Tuioti, 5. Josh Goodhue, 6. Jimmy Tupou, 7. Kara Pryor or Dalton Papalii, 8. Akira Ioane; 9. Augustine Pulu or Jonathan Ruru, 10. Stephen Perofeta, 11. Tumua Manu, 12. Rieko Ioane, 13. Orbyn Leger, 14. Jordan Hyland,15. Matt Duffie.

Replacements: 16. Leni Apisai, 17 Ross Wright, 18 Mike Tamoaieta, 19 Ben Nee-Nee, 20 Lyndon Dunshea, 21 Augustine Pulu, 22 Dan Kirkpatrick, 23 Terrence Hepetema

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