Blues head coach Leon MacDonald has has made a big move recalling Ma’a Nonu, naming the All Blacks legend to start at center upon his return to Super Rugby against defending champs, the Crusaders after three seasons in France with Toulon.
MacDonald has named a strong starting lineup featuring current All Blacks Rieko Ioane, Patrick Tuipulotu and Dalton Papalii, with props Ofa Tu’ungafasi and new signing Karl Tu’inukuafe joining Sonny Bill Williams on the bench.
Elsewhere, Michael Collins has been named at fullback with outside back Melani Nanai named on the right-wing and Otere Black set to start at fly-half for the Blues after missing the entire 2018 season because of a knee injury.
Meanwhile, the Crusaders have named a strong side featuring 13 All Blacks, including 10 in the starting side.
Openside flanker Matt Todd will captain the side, assisted by second-five Ryan Crotty alongside Richie Mo’unga Manasa Mataele and Fullback David Havili.
Props Joe Moody and Owen Franks will anchor the scrum with Makalio as the hooker. Whetu Douglas starts in the number eight jersey with Luke Romano, Tom Sanders Drummond and Mitch Hunt feature the bench.
— The Blues (@BluesRugbyTeam) February 13, 2019
Crusaders: 1-Joe Moody, 2-Andrew Makalio, 3-Owen Franks, 4-Scott Barrett, 5-Quinten Strange, 6-Jordan Taufua, 7-Matt Todd, 8-Whetu Douglas, 9-Bryn Hall, 10-Richie Mo’unga, 11-George Bridge, 12-Ryan Crotty, 13-Braydon Ennor, 14-Manasa Mataele, 15-David Havili
Reserves: 16-Ben Funnell, 17-Tim Perry, 18-Michael Alaalatoa, 19-Luke Romano, 20-Tom Sanders, 21-Mitchell Drummond, 22-Mitchell Hunt, 23-Will Jordan