Super Rugby: Blues host fourth-placed Waratahs at Eden Park
Last Updated: 24/04/14 10:45pm
The Blues will be aiming to stop shipping points when they host fourth-placed Waratahs at Eden Park for Friday's showdown.
Rugby League international Benji Marshall may have been released after failing to adjust to the 15-man code at the Blues.
But coach John Kirwan has recalled World Cup All Blacks Piri Weepu and Ma'a Nonu for what is traditionally a fierce trans-Tasman contest.
Weepu has been cleared to return via the bench after the scrum-half suffered a stroke last month and underwent minor heart surgery.
"To have Weepu back will probably spark some emotion and when he comes on late in the game, he'll be trying his best to have an impact and change the result," Waratahs fly-half Bernard Foley said.
"You can't take any player lightly. Even recent form goes out the window when you play guys like that because they can come on and ignite something or do the things that only the world-class players do."
Hawke's Bay flyhalf Ihaia West is due to make his Super Rugby debut off the bench as Kirwan's side face an uphill battle to resurrect their season after they were comprehensively outplayed by the Hurricanes last week.
The Waratahs, have the top-ranked Australian side, the Brumbies, in their sights, and have been boosted by Wallaby Kurtley Beale's speedy recovery from an ankle injury.
Despite only having only won once in nine visits to Eden Park they are statistically they are one of the best attacking teams in the competition while the misfiring Blues are struggling in 11th spot.
Blues: 15 Charles Piutau, 14 Frank Halai, 13 Francis Saili, 12 Ma'a Nonu, 11 Lolagi Visinia, 10 Simon Hickey, 9 Bryn Hall; 1 Tony Woodcock, 2 Keven Mealamu, 3 Charlie Faumuina, 4 Patrick Tuipulotu, 5 Tom Donnelly, 6 Jerome Kaino, 7 Luke Braid, 8 Peter Saili.
Replacements: 16 James Parsons, 17 Sam Prattley, 18 Angus Ta'avao, 19 Hayden Triggs, 20 Piri Weepu, 21 Steven Luatua, 22 Ihaia West, 23 Pita Ahki.
Waratahs: 15 Israel Folau, 14 Cam Crawford, 13 Adam Ashley-Cooper, 12 Kurtley Beale, 11 Rob Horne, 10 Bernard Foley, 9 Nick Phipps. 1 Benn Robinson, 2 Tatafu Polota, 3 Sekope Kepu Nau, 4 Will Skelton, 5 Kane Douglas, 6 Jacques Potgieter, 7 Michael Hooper, 8 Dave Dennis (c).
Replacements (one to be omitted): 16 Tolu Latu, 17 Jeremy Tilse, 18 Paddy Ryan, 19 Pat McCutcheon, 20 Wycliff Palu, 21 Brendan McKibbin, 22 Jono Lance, 23 Matt Carraro, 24 Stephen Hoiles.
Super Rugby 2014 Round 11
Western Force moved third in the Super Rugby standings after Sias Ebersohn kicked them to 15-9 victory over the Bulls.
Hurricanes moved top of the New Zealand conference with a 35-21 bonus-point triumph over the Reds on Saturday.
Highlanders ran in four tries as they pulled off a shock 34-18 victory over Super Rugby leaders Sharks at Kings Park.