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Tuipulotu set to return for Blues against Rebels

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Blues head coach Tana Umaga has bracketed All Black Patrick Tuipulotu in his team to play Melbourne’s Rebels at Eden Park on Saturday.

Tuipulotu has been bracketed with Hoani Matenga in a starting line up that is relatively unchanged since their last match against the Sharks.

The Blues had a bye last week and after this match the Blues fly to South Africa to the Kings and Lions in South Africa and then the Force in Perth. The Blues then have a match at home against the Crusaders in the final game before the break for the June international window.

The only other change other than Tuipulotu from the side that started against the Sharks two weeks ago is the return of George Moala to the starting line-up in place of the injured Rene Ranger. It will be Moala’s 49th game for the Blues.

The game marks the final game this season for Blues tyros Rieko and Akira Ioane before they move to the All Blacks Sevens squad in the build-up for the Rio Olympics.

Players not considered with injury include TJ Faine, Rene Ranger and Ben Lam all with season-ending injuries; Blake Gibson (fractured thumb) and Jordan Trainor.

Blues

Lolagi Visinia, Rieko Ioane, George Moala, Piers Francis, Tevita Li, Ihaia West, Bryn Hall; Steven Luatua, Tanerau Latimer, Jerome Kaino, Josh Bekhuis, Patrick Tuipulotu or Hoani Matenga, Charlie Faumuina, James Parsons (v), Sam Prattley.

Replacements: Quentin MacDonald, Nic Mayhew or Namatahi Waa, Ofa Tu’ungafasi, Akira Ioane, Kara Pryor, Billy Guyton, Matt McGahan, Melani Nanai or Matt Duffie.

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