Ma’a Nonu will make his Blues return against the team he spent most of his Super Rugby career playing for.
On Friday, the 36-year-old was named to start at centre in his side’s final pre-season hitout, against the Hurricanes at Mangatainoka in Wairarapa on Saturday.
Nonu spent his first eight years at the Hurricanes before shifting north to the Blues. He then spent seasons at the Highlanders, Blues and Hurricanes before departing for French side Toulon.
He has come back to New Zealand with an eye to a miracle return to the All Blacks for this year’s World Cup.
On Saturday, he will be a major draw card in what is a relatively inexperienced Blues lineup, especially in the forwards.
He will start outside TJ Faiane, while Stephen Perofeta gets the nod at 10 over Otere Black. Augustine Pulu starts at halfback.
Wellingtonian Leni Apisai will start at hooker against his home franchise, while All Black Jack Goodhue’s twin brother Josh starts at lock.
AT A GLANCE
Blues: Michael Collins, Melani Nanai, Ma’a Nonu, TJ Faiane, Tanielu Tele’a, Stephen Perofeta, Augustine Pulu, Hoskins Sotutu, Matt Matich, Tom Robinson, Gerard Cowley-Tuioti, Josh Goodhue, Sione Mafileo, Leni Apisai, Alex Hodgman. Reserves: Marcel Renata, Matt Moulds, Mike Tamoaieta, James Tucker, Evan Olmstead, Waimana Riedlinger-Kapa, Adrian Choat, Jack Grooby, Jonathan Ruru, Otere Black, Caleb Clarke, Levi Aumua, Harry Plummer, Tomas Aoake