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International quartet back for Blues

NZ NewswireNZ Newswire 30/06/2016

The Blues welcome back four of their international contingent to face the Hurricanes in Wellington as the two sides return to Super Rugby.

All Blacks forwards Jerome Kaino, Patrick Tuipulotu and Ofa Tu'ungafasi, and Japan centre Male Sa'u are all included in the starting 15 for the match on Saturday night.

However, missing are two other All Blacks in outside back George Moala (elbow) and prop Charlie Faumuina (knee), who picked up injuries in the final Test against Wales.

The pair's absence means there are three changes from Blues line-up that began the 26-21 loss to the Crusaders before the June international window.

Tu'ungafasi, who made his Test debut off the bench against the Welsh last weekend, comes in for Faumuina, while Sa'u replaces Moala.

The other change is at halfback, where Bryn Hall is in for Billy Guyton, who goes to the reserves.

The bench features the inclusion of loose forward Blake Gibson, back after missing six games because of thumb surgery.

Coach Tana Umaga says the reintegration of the international quartet this week has been relative straightforward.

"It's as if we haven't missed a beat," he said.

Umaga said the process was helped by Kaino and Tuipulotu sitting out the final Test.

"They're fresh and itching to go, and Ofa is excited with what he achieved in getting his first cap."

Blues: Melani Nanai, Matt Duffie, Male Sa'u, Piers Francis, Tevita Li, Ihaia West, Bryn Hall, Steven Luatua, Kara Pryor, Jerome Kaino, Josh Bekhuis, Patrick Tuipulotu, Ofa Tu'ungafasi, James Parsons (capt), Sam Prattley. Reserves: Quentin MacDonald, Namatahi Waa, Sione Mafileo, Gerard Cowley-Tuioti/Hoani Matenga, Blake Gibson, Billy Guyton, Matt McGahan, Matt Vaega/Lolagi Visinia.

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