Toeava faces a frustrating spell out with a hip injury

Having returned from South Africa and facing a short turnaround before their Friday night match against the Hurricanes, the Blues are forced to field a team without their captain, Keven Mealamu.

A calf strain which saw Mealamu leave the field during the Stormers match last week, along with a three week suspension given to Luke Braid has meant once again, Wider Training Group players have been called into the 22.

Coach Pat Lam is in the middle of an injury crisis after indefinitely losing utility back Iasaia Toeava. Originally diagnosed in May 2011 with a stress fracture to his hip, the unhealed injury has sidelined the player since the second week of play, leaving the player frustrated, “I’ve had a rough run with this hip” said Toeava.

“It was painful last year but it seemed it might have come right during the break after the World Cup. But that wasn’t the case and I have been struggling with it this season. It’s really frustrating because I just want to be out there with my team.”

Non-surgical rehab could see the Auckland back return in three months. However if specialists feel surgery is required, the All Blacks back could be out for the rest of the season.

Much deserved good news for Lam sees All Black prop Tony Woodcock making a very timely return to the front row. Auckland lock Liaki Moli will get his first start for the Blues.

Injured wingers Rudi Wulf and David Raikuna are back on deck and will both start the match.

Gareth Anscombe suffered a nose fracture during last week’s game but will still be on the bench for the Hurricanes match.

Starting XV:
1. Tony Woodcock
2. Tom McCartney
3. Charlie Faumuina
4. Liaki Moli
5. Ali Williams
6. Chris Lowrey
7. Daniel Braid (C)
8. Brad Mika
9. Alby Mathewson
10. Piri Weepu
11. Rudi Wulf
12. Ma’a Nonu
13. Benson Stanley
14. David Raikuna
15. Lachie Munro

16 James Parsons *
17 Tevita Mailau
18 Filo Paulo
19 Sean Polwart *
20 Gareth Anscombe
21 Michael Hobbs
22 Hadleigh Parkes *
(* – Wider Training Group)

Unavailable – Jerome Kaino (Shoulder), Keven Mealamu (calf), Isaia Toeava (stress fracture – hip), George Moala (Shoulder), Anthony Boric (neck), Luke Braid (3 week ban) and Rene Ranger (2 week ban)