Luke Braid returns after a three week suspension

The Braid brothers make a very welcome return to the Blues starting line up this week, with the loose forward duo pairing up for the first time in a month.

Daniel was forced to withdraw from the team during pre-match warm-up last week due to illness and Luke has been sitting out a three week suspension incurred during the Stormers match in South Africa.

“It’s good to have both Braid brothers returning. Luke’s work ethic and experience at the breakdown working alongside Dan is crucial to our game,” said Blues coach Pat Lam.

Young Auckland lock Liaki Moli has earned his first start of the season, having recovered from illness last week that saw him sit most of the match out on the bench.

“Liaki and Filo Paulo have taken their opportunities when on the field. They provide fresh legs and energy and deserve their starting spots.  Ali has started every game so far – this week he’ll come off the bench.”

Another rookie gets his place in the starting XV – Hadleigh Parkes has been named on the right wing.

“Hadleigh has been in the 22 for a number of weeks. He is a real workhorse with a good boot on him and will give everything for the team out there. He’s thrilled to be starting and will bring plenty of energy to what’s going to be a very tough encounter.”

Starting XV:
1. Tony Woodcock
2. Keven Mealamu ©
3. Charlie Faumuina
4. Liaki Moli
5. Filo Paulo
6. Luke Braid
7. Dan Braid
8. Chris Lowrey
9. Alby Mathewson
10. Gareth Anscombe
11. Rene Ranger
12. Ma’a Nonu
13. Benson Stanley
14. Hadleigh Parkes
15. Rudi Wulf

16. Tom McCartney
17. Tevita Mailau
18. Ali Williams
19. Peter Saili
20. Piri Weepu
21. Michael Hobbs
22. George Moala

Unavailable: Jerome Kaino, Anthony Boric, Isaia Toeava, David Raikuna, Brad Mika