The match at Eden Park kicks off at 05h25 (SA time) and will be broadcast live on SuperSport 1.

Frans van Wyk, Hacjivah Dayimani and Ruan Vermaak will get their first starts on tour, while Willem Alberts will move to lock, with Vermaak, Dayimani and Marnus Schoeman forming the new loose-trio.

At the back, Manuel Rass returns to action while Jamba Ulengo has recovered suffiently from a quad contusion to be included in the starting line-up. Tyrone Green moves to fullback.

Andries Coetzee (fullback) and Len Massyn (No 8) have both been included on the bench, while Wandisile Simelane was not considered due to a Grade 1 MCL tear in his right knee.

Blues captain Patrick Tuipulotu and Ofa Tu’ungafasi will sit out this match due to the All Blacks’ resting protocols, while Gerard Cowley-Tuioti will start his first match of the season.

Three of the last four Vodacom Super Rugby games between the Blues and the Emirates Lions have been decided by a margin of exactly three points on the day, with the men from Johannesburg winning three of those – including a 13-10 win when they last faced the Aucklanders in New Zealand in 2015 (in Albany) – and losing one.

Each of the Blues’ last six encounters have been won by the away team on the day, including both of their home games so far this season, which ended in victories for the Chiefs and Crusaders in Aucland.

The Blues are undefeated in their last four Vodacom Super Rugby games against South African opposition (W3, D1) – the last time they went longer without defeat against teams from the Republic was a five-game win streak across the 2004 and 2005 seasons.


The teams:

Blues – 15 Stephen Perofeta, 14 Matt Duffie, 13 Rieko Ioane, 12 TJ Faiane (captain), 11 Mark Telea, 10 Otere Black, 9 Sam Nock, 8 Hoskins Sotutu, 7 Blake Gibson, 6 Dalton Papalii, 5 Jacob Pierce, 4 Gerard Cowley-Tuioti, 3 Sione Mafileo, 2 James Parsons, 1 Karl Tu’inukuafe. Replacements: 16 Luteru Tolai, 17 Joe Walsh, 18 Marcel Renata, 19 Aaron Carroll/Sam Caird, 20 Akira Ioane, 21 Jonathan Ruru, 22 Harry Plummer, 23 Emoni Narawa.

Emirates Lions – 15 Tyrone Green, 14 Jamba Ulengo, 13 Manuel Rass, 12 Dan Kriel, 11 Courtnall Skosan, 10 Elton Jantjies (captain), 9 Andre Warner, 8 Hacjivah Dayimani, 7 Ruan Vermaak, 6 Marnus Schoeman, 5 Marvin Orie, 4 Willem Alberts, 3 Frans van Wyk, 2 Jan-Henning Campher, 1 Dylan Smith. Replacements: 16 Pieter Jansen, 17 Sti Sithole, 18 Carlu Sadie, 19 Wilhelm van der Sluys, 20 Len Massyn, 21 Morne van der Berg, 22 Shaun Reynolds, 23 Andries Coetzee.


Head to head:

Played: 12

Blues won: 8

Emirates Lions won: 4

Blues points: 428

Emirates Lions points: 271

Average score: 36-23


Match information:

Date: Saturday, 14 March

Venue: Eden Park, Auckland

Kick-off: 05h25 (SA time)

Referee: Marius van der Westhuizen (South Africa)

Assistant referees: Jaco Peyper (South Africa), Ben O'Keeffe (New Zealand)

Television match official: Glenn Newman (New Zealand)