All Blacks and Blues Super rugby hooker James Parsons will win his 100th cap after being named in the team to play the Hurricanes at Eden Park in Auckland on Saturday.
Head Coach Leon MacDonald said he is challenging the side to put the last three weeks of indifferent performances behind them as they face the Hurricanes for the first time this season.
“We are clearly disappointed with our overall performances in the last three games away. There have been lots of good aspects in each of those games but there have been one or two aspects in each of them that has let us down,” MacDonald said.
“We are looking to put a complete performance together, one that we can be proud of and one that our fans deserve.
“We continue to work hard and there are lots of good signs but one or two things let us down in these last two games in particular. This is an excellent opportunity for the team to right the ship.”
Centurion James Parsons, who will play his 100th Super Rugby match after his 100th game for the Blues two weeks ago, returns to the starting line-up with All Blacks Karl Tu’inukuafe and Ofa Tuungafasi who will be looking for an improved scrum effort.
Co-captain Patrick Tuipulotu also starts with Josh Goodhue, who impressed last week, while there’s a mobile look to the back row with Dalton Papalii starting with co-captain Blake Gibson and the resilient Akira Ioane.
Both Tom Robinson and Alex Hodgman were not considered after not passing their post-game head injury assessments.
All Black Rieko Ioane returns to the left wing, with Tanielu Tele’a back after suspension on the right wing in place of an illness-hit Caleb ‘Clarke in the backs.
Both the Blues and New Zealand Rugby will recognise the efforts of Parsons with presentations post-match.
Sione Mafileo (ankle), Stephen Perofeta (pectoral), Jordan Trainor (thigh), Sonny Bill Williams (knee), Michael Collins (groin), Caleb Clarke (illness), Alex Hodgman (concussion) and Tom Robinson (concussion) were not considered for selection due to injury.
1 Karl Tu’inukuafe, 2 James Parsons, 3 Ofa Tuungafasi, 4 Patrick Tuipulotu, 5 Josh Goodhue, 6 Dalton Papalii, 7 Blake Gibson ©, 8 Akira Ioane; 9 Sam Nock, 10 Harry Plummer, 11 Rieko Ioane, 12 Ma’a Nonu, 13 TJ Faiane, 14 Tanielu Tele’a, 15 Melani Nanai.
Replacements: 16 Leni Apisai, 17 Ezekiel Lindenmuth, 18 Marcel Renata, 19 Scott Scrafton, 20 Jed Brown, 21 Augustine Pulu, 22 Otere Black, 23 Matt Duffie.