A determined Blues side will be looking to even the ledger when they take on the Chiefs at home at Eden Park this Saturday.
With both teams still looking to be in the mix for the Investec Super Rugby playoffs, the scene is set for an epic battle between the two sides flanking the Bombay Hills.
The Chiefs won their last encounter 33-29 at FMG Stadium in Hamilton in Round 9.
The Blues coaching team has retained the bulk of its run-on side with Scott Scrafton moving in to start at lock after an impressive performance against the Hurricanes last week.
Other changes include Alex Hodgman coming in at loosehead prop, with All Black Karl Tu’inukuafe set to make his impact off the bench, Jonathan Ruru will start at halfback with Sam Nock out injured (finger), and speedster Caleb Clarke will take up his starting position on the right wing replacing the injured Tanielu Tele’a (foot).
Loose forward Dalton Papalii retains the no 6 jersey after a strong performance last week, while the physically imposing Tom Robinson is set to make his return from concussion, off the pine.
Head Coach Leon MacDonald said there was real intensity to the team’s preparation and strong motivation from the side this week.
“We feel we are really close to achieving the complete performance we’ve been striving for. This team continues to impress me with their heart and determination.
“This weekend, we probably have a little unfinished business here; I know the boys are pretty motivated after last week, and we definitely have a few things we want to revisit with the Chiefs.”
The Blues team is:
1 Alex Hodgman, 2 James Parsons, 3 Ofa Tuungafasi, 4 Patrick Tuipulotu (co-capt), 5 Scott Scrafton, 6 Dalton Papalii, 7 Blake Gibson (co-capt), 8 Akira Ioane, 9 Jonathan Ruru, 10 Harry Plummer, 11 Rieko Ioane, 12 Ma’a Nonu, 13 TJ Faiane (VC), 14 Caleb Clarke, 15 Melani Nanai.
Reserves: 16 Matt Moulds, 17 Lua Li, 18 Karl Tu’inukuafe, 19 Gerard Cowley-Tuioti, 20 Tom Robinson, 21 Augustine Pulu, 22 Otere Black, 23 Matt Duffie.
Players not considered with injury: Sione Mafileo (ankle) Stephen Perofeta (pectoral), Jordan Trainor (thigh), Sonny Bill Williams (knee) Michael Collins (groin), Sam Nock (finger), Tanielu Tele’a (foot), Josh Goodhue (concussion), Jimmy Tupou (knee), Jed Brown (hamstring).