Blues change five, Highlanders three

Ma'a Nonu, Jerome Kaino and Hayden Triggs will all start for the Blues against the Highlanders in Auckland on Saturday.

Coach John Kirwan has made five changes to the side that beat the Cheetahs 40-30 last weekend as the Blues look to maintain their unbeaten record at Eden Park in 2014.

Tom McCartney will make his first start of the season at hooker in place of James Parsons, while Triggs also earns his first start ahead of Tom Donnelly.

Kaino will start at blindside flanker as Steven Luatua shifts to No 8 to cover Peter Saili, who has had a sore foot and been unable to take full part in training this week.

Piri Weepu will not play on Saturday after expert diagnosis this week determined he had recently suffered a minor stroke. As a result, Bryn Hall will start at scrumhalf, while Northland's Sonatane Takulua, who played in the Blues' pre-season fixtures, comes onto the bench as Jamison Gibson-Park is still injured.

Nonu's inclusion in the starting XV at inside centre sees Jackson Willison move to outside centre and George Moala shift to the left wing as Tevita Li drops out of the match 23.

Meanwhile, the Highlanders have made three changes to their pack for Saturday's clash.

Jarrad Hoeata comes into the second row to partner Brad Thorn, with Chris King and Ged Robinson selected in the front row.

Blues – 15 Charles Piutau, 14 Frank Halai, 13 Jackson Willison, 12 Ma'a Nonu, 11 George Moala, 10 Simon Hickey, 9 Bryn Hall, 8 Steven Luatua, 7 Luke Braid, 6 Jerome Kaino, 5 Hayden Triggs, 4 Liaki Moli, 3 Charlie Faumuina, 2 Tom McCartney, 1 Tony Woodcock.
Subs: 16 James Parsons, 17 Ofa Tu'ungafasi, 18 Angus Ta'avao, 19 Tom Donnelly, 20 Peter Saili, 21 Sonatane Takulua, 22 Pita Ahki, 23 Benji Marshall.

Highlanders – 15 Ben Smith, 14 Richard Buckman, 13 Malakai Fekitoa, 12 Phil Burleigh, 11 Patrick Osborne, 10 Lima Sopoaga, 9 Aaron Smith, 8 Nasi Manu, 7 Shane Christie, 6 Elliot Dixon, 5 Jarrad Hoeata, 4 Brad Thorn, 3 Chris King, 2 Ged Robinson, 1 Kane Hames.
Subs: 16 Liam Coltman, 17 Craig Millar, 18 Ma'afu Fia, 19 Joe Wheeler, 20 TJ Ioane, 21 Fumiaki Tanaka, 22 Hayden Parker, 23 Shaun Treeby.

Super Rugby teams (Round 7)

Photos: Hannah Peters/Getty Images

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Simon Borchardt