Piri Weepu will get his first opportunity to don the Blues jersey and marshal the backline from first five-eighths on Saturday night when the Blues take on the Rebels in Melbourne (kick-off 9.40pm NZT).
After plenty of media speculation as to which position Weepu would slot into for the Blues this year, head coach Pat Lam said now was the time to see whether Weepu, who has on occasions played pivot for the All Blacks, could spark the Blues’ backline into action.
“If we’re going to try Piri at 10 now is the time to do it and we’ll see how he goes. Michael Hobbs and Gareth Anscombe both did well at ten last week so now it’s a chance for Piri to have a shot,” Lam said.
Sniping halfback Alby Mathewson will form a strong 9,10 axis with his former Hurricanes teammate, but with no reserve halfback on the bench Weepu may well get an opportunity to play both positions during the pre-season encounter.
Weepu is joined by a number of big guns for the fixture, with fellow World Cup winning All Blacks Ali Williams and Isaia Toeava also strapping on the boots for the first time this year.
Promising lock Liaki Moli will make his first appearance after overcoming a hamstring strain, while Daniel Braid has shrugged off an Achilles twinge to line-up at openside flanker.
The Blues team to face the Melbourne Rebels at AAMI Stadium on Saturday night is:
1. Tevita Mailau
2. Tom McCartney
3. Charlie Faumuina
4. Liaki Moli
5. Ali Williams
6. Chris Lowrey
7. Daniel Braid
8. Jerome Kaino
9. Alby Mathewson
10. Piri Weepu
11. Sherwin Stowers
12. Michael Hobbs
13. Rene Ranger
14. David Raikuna
15. Isaia Toeava
Unavailable due to injury:
George Moala, Keven Mealamu, Luke Braid