World Cup-winning All Blacks Jerome Kaino and Anthony Boric will front up for the Blues in their first Super Rugby pre-season match, against the Hurricanes in Whangarei on Saturday.
Kaino, awarded the New Zealand Player of the Year last year following stellar performances for both the Blues and All Blacks, is eager to get back into another season and will shift from his regular position of flank to No.8 for the hit-out.
"Jerome and Anthony have both come back in pretty good condition, they've trained well and most importantly they're keen to get out there. We'll only put them on for 40 minutes as they build into the season," Blues head coach Pat Lam said.
"As we know Jerome is the sort of guy that thrives on games and gets better with every game he plays so he wants to be at his peak for the Crusaders, and the same goes for AB so it's a good chance for them to get out there."
Entering his fourth campaign with the Blues in 2012, Lam said the focus of Saturday's first pre-season match was on structure and communication.
"The main thing is getting our systems going again, having a solid hit-out and trying things. Training is nothing compared to getting out there and playing a game and there is a real emphasis on communication this week particularly from our new first five-eighths Michael Hobbs and Gareth Anscombe.
"Everyone's going to get some game time including the wider training group and the guys know it's about performing and trying to get a foot in the door for the first proper game of the season against the Crusaders."
As well as the intriguing battle for the No.10 jersey between Hobbs, Anscombe and the injured Piri Weepu, another hotly contested spot will be on the wing, and Lam is looking forward to seeing who puts their hand up for selection.
"There are places up for grabs. We lost Joe Rokocoko on the wing and Rudi Wulf is an established player who is back, you've got David Raikuna, Sherwin Stowers and George Moala who will also get a hit-out at centre as well, so it's a good chance for them to stake a claim."
The match will be played in four 20 minute quarters.
Blues: 15 Rudi Wulf, 14 David Raikuna, 13 George Moala, 12 Benson Stanley, 11 Lachie Munro, 10 Michael Hobbs, 9 Wayne Ngaluafe, 8 Jerome Kaino, 7 Sean Polwart, 6 Chris Lowrey, 5 Anthony Boric, 4 Filo Paulo, 3 Charlie Faumuina, 2 James Parsons, 1 Pauliasi Manu.
Replacements - from: Tevita Mailau, Tom McCartney, Angus Ta'avao, Steven Luatua, Daniel Braid, Dan Pryor, Brad Mika, Alby Mathewson, Gareth Anscombe, Hadleigh Parkes, Sherwin Stowers, Ben Lam, Rene Ranger.
Hurricanes: 15 Andre Taylor, 14 Richard Buckman, 13 Alapati Leiua, 12 Jayden Hayward, 11 Julian Savea, 10 Daniel Kirkpatrick, 9 Chris Eaton, 8 Victor Vito, 7 Jack Lam, 6 Brad Shields, 5 Jason Eaton, 4 Jeremy Thrush, 3 Ben May, 2 Dane Coles, 1 Tristan Moran.
Replacements - from: Motu Matu'u, Reg Goodes, Jeffery Toomaga-Allen, Michael Bent, James Broadhurst, Mark Reddish, Scott Fuglistaller, Faifili Levave, TJ Perenara, Chris Smylie, Beauden Barrett, Cory Jane, Charlie Ngatai, James Marshall.
Date: Saturday, February 4
Venue: Toll Stadium, Whangarei
Kick-off: 14.30 (01.30 GMT)
Referee: Bryce Lawrence
Assistant referees: Nick Briant, John Dustow
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