Super Rugby preview: Blues take on Central Cheetahs at Eden Park
Blues take on bottom-placed Central Cheetahs at Eden Park on Saturday with both teams seeking a much-needed win.
Last Updated: 20/03/14 10:58am
The Kiwi side have seven points from their four games and are currently in 11th spot while the Cheetahs have accumulated just five points in as many games.
The Auckland-based Blues returned to New Zealand after losing both their matches in South Africa, the second a 39-36 defeat to the Lions in Johannesburg.
The visiting Cheetahs will be desperate to take some points home after getting hammered by the Hurricanes by 33 points last week and have conceded 19 tries in three tour matches.
Simon Hickey has been given the nod by Blues coach John Kirwan ahead of flyhalf Chris Noakes, who has been dropped.
Hickey is one of two changes to the Blues for the game, the other being Charles Piutau moving from left wing to full-back, meaning league convert Benji Marshall will drop to the bench.
All Blacks duo Ma'a Nonu and Jerome Kaino are on the replacements bench after returning from injury.
Cheetahs coach Naka Drotske has made three changes to his starting XV with regular wing Rayno Benjamin starting at centre in place of Francois Venter, while full-back Hennie Daniller comes in at wing for the injured Raymond Rhule.
Among the forwards, Jean Cook replaces Lappies Labuschagne in a tactical change with the latter relegated to the replacements bench.
The match will have extra significance for Cheetahs skipper Adriaan Strauss, who will make his 50th Super Rugby appearance.
Blues: 15 Charles Piutau, 14 Frank Halai, 13 George Moala, 12 Jackson Willison, 11 Tevita Li, 10 Simon Hickey, 9 Piri Weepu, 1 Tony Woodock, 2 James Parsons, 3 Charlie Faumuina, 4 Liaki Moli, 5 Tom Donnelly, 6 Steven Luatua, 7 Luke Braid, 8 Peter Saili.
Replacements: 16 Tom McCartney, 17 Angus Ta'avao, 18 Ofa Tu'ingafasi, 19 Jerome Kaino, 20 Hayden Triggs, 21 Bryn Hall, 22 Ma'a Nonu, 23.Benji Marshall.
Cheetahs: 15 Willie le Roux, 14 Cornal Hendricks, 13 Johann Sadie, 12 Rayno Benjamin, 11 Hennie Daniller, 10 Johan Goosen, 9 Sarel Pretorious, 1 Calib Oosthuizen, 2 Adriaan Strauss, 3 Maks van Dyk, 4 Lodewyk de Jager, 5 Francois Uys, 6 Boom Prinsloo, 7 Jean Cook, 8 Philip van der Walt.
Replacements: 16 Ryno Barnes, 17 Trevor Nyakane, 18 Rossouw de Klerk, 19 Andries Ferreira, 20 Lappies Labuschagne, 21 Shaun Venter, 22 Elgar Watts, 23 Howard Mnisi.