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Super Rugby: Blues v Highlanders preview
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- Depleted Sharks face Waratahs
- Reds v Stormers: Teams
- Hurricanes edge out Crusaders
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- Sharks bite wavering Waratahs
- Blues stroll past Highlanders
- Rebels claim deserved victory
Ma'a Nonu, Jerome Kaino and Hayden Triggs all start for the Blues on Saturday when they host the Highlanders at Eden Park, live on Sky Sports.
The trio were all on the bench for the 40-30 victory over the Cheetahs last week but have been drafted in by head coach John Kirwan for the all-New Zealand Conference battle.
The return of All Blacks duo Nonu and Kaino to the first XV is a welcome boost for the hosts, with Kirwan always planning to use the pair in the home fixture.
"They're two World Cup winning All Blacks and it was part of the plan to get them out there against the Cheetahs last week and get them on the football field from the first whistle against the Highlanders," he said.
"I like the intensity they bring around the place and I like the way they go about their business. They're a bit uncompromising which is what we need against the Highlanders on Saturday."
Triggs earns his first start ahead of Tom Donnelly in the second row, while Tom McCartney gets the nod at hooker in place of James Parsons.
Peter Saili who has had a sore foot and been unable to take full part in training so Steven Luatua shifts to number eight and Kaino is in at blindside flanker.
Nonu's return means Jackson Willison shifts across to outside centre and George Moala moves to the wing. Tevita Li drops out of the matchday squad completely.
The Highlanders head on their travels looking to build on their 35-31 triumph over the Hurricanes at Forsyth Barr Stadium, a result that ended a two-match losing run.
They have made three changes to their line-up; Jarrad Hoeata comes into the second-row to partner Brad Thorn, with Chris King and Ged Robinson selected in the front-row.
There is also one alteration on the bench, prop Craig Millar taking the place of Matias Diaz amongst the list of replacements.
Blues: 15 Piutau, 14 Halai, 13 Willison, 12 Nonu, 11 Moala, 10 Hickey, 9 Hall; 1 Woodcock, 2 McCartney, 3 Faumuina, 4 Moli, 5 Triggs, 6 Kaino, 7 Braid, 8 Luatua
Replacements: 16 Parsons, 17 Tu'ungafasi, 18 Ta'avao, 19 Donnelly, 20 Saili, 21 Takulua, 22 Ahki, 23 Marshall
Highlanders: 15 Smith, 14 Buckman, 13 Fekitoa, 12 Burleigh, 11 Osborne, 10 Sopoaga, 9 Smith; 1 Kane Hames, 2 Ged Robinson, 3 Chris King, 4 Brad Thorn, 5 Jarrad Hoeata, 6 Elliot Dixon, 7 Shane Christie, 8 Manu
Replacements: 16 Coltman, 17 Millar, 18 Fia, 19 Wheeler, 20 Ioane, 21 Tanaka, 22 Parker, 23 Treeby.
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|Saturday 2nd August|
|Waratahs 33 - 32 Crusaders|
|Saturday 26th July|
|Waratahs 26 - 8 Brumbies|
|Crusaders 38 - 6 Sharks|
|Saturday 19th July|
|Sharks 31 - 27 Highlanders|
|Brumbies 32 - 30 Chiefs|
|Saturday 12th July|
|Stormers 10 - 34 Sharks|
|Lions 60 - 25 Cheetahs|
|Reds 3 - 34 Waratahs|
|Crusaders 34 - 8 Highlanders|
|Friday 11th July|
|Bulls 40 - 7 Melbourne Rebels|
|Brumbies 47 - 25 Western Force|
|Blues 8 - 11 Chiefs|
Read the thoughts and opinions of Phil Edwards with skysports.com