Blues coach Pat Lam has named his team to face the Crusaders at Eden Park for the opening match of the Super Rugby season with Michael Hobbs running the backline.
Lam says that the starting line up earned their jerseys through solid pre-season performances and are the players who are in optimum shape.
Captained by Keven Mealamu, the Blues welcome back winger Rudi Wulf after a stint in Toulon and he is joined by North Harbour speedster David Raikuna who will make his debut this Friday night on the right wing.
"In the highly competitive outside backs, David Raikuna has put his hand up. He had a very good game against the Highlanders so he's earned his spot on the right wing. "
"With Sherwin Stowers getting injured in the Rebels game it has given David the chance to start and take the opportunity in a big game," says Lam
Michael Hobbs, also returning to the Blues has secured the No.10 starting position and it is his form to-date that has impressed the coaches.
"Michael Hobbs impressed in the last game and throughout the pre-season. He's in great nick so he will start at 10," Lam said.
"There was really good competition for the number 10 jersey and Piri showed his class but we feel at this stage as he is just returning to rugby, it is best to bring him off the bench."
1. Tom McCartney,2. Keven Mealamu (c),3 Charlie Faumuina,4. Anthony Boric,5. Ali Williams ,6. Chris Lowrey,7. Daniel Braid,8. Jerome Kaino,9. Alby Mathewson,10. Michael Hobbs ,11. Rudi Wulf,12. Benson Stanley,13. Rene Ranger,14. David Raikuna,15. Isaia Toeava
16 Pauliasi Manu,17 Tevita Mailau,18 Brad Mika,19 Luke Braid,20 Piri Weepu,21 Hadleigh Parkes,22 Sherwin Stowers