The Blues suffered another blow when their captain Jerome Kaino was ruled out of Friday's clash with the Hurricanes in Palmerston North due to concussion.
Kaino sustained the injury in last weekend's clash against the Lions and his absence means Blues boss Sir John Kirwan has reshuffled his back row. Steven Luatua moves to number eight while openside flanker Luke Braid takes over the captaincy and Brendon O’Connor returns to wear the number six jersey.
Tony Woodcock, James Parsons and Charlie Faumuina were named to start in the front row, with record-setting hooker Keven Mealamu to come off the bench. The quartet boast 397 Super Rugby caps between them.
Jimmy Cowan, who has a knee strain, is bracketed with Jamison Gibson-Park at scrum-half, with the rest of the backline unchanged.
Akira Ioane comes into the reserves at loose forward, Bryn Hall is bracketed with Gibson-Park at scrum-half as he seeks his first start of the year, while George Moala is on the bench after recovering from a knee injury.
Not considered because of injury is Dan Bowden (foot injury) and Blake Gibson, who is likely to be available for club rugby next week.
Blues: 15 Lolagi Visinia, 14 Frank Halai, 13 Charles Piutau, 12 Francis Saili, 11 Melani Nanai, 10 Ihaia West, 9Jimmy Cowan/Jamison Gibson-Park, 8 Steven Luatua, 7 Luke Braid (c), 6 Brendon O'Connor, 5 Patrick Tuipulotu, 4 Josh Bekhuis, 3 Charlie Faumuina, 2 James Parsons, 1 Tony Woodcock.
Replacements: 16 Keven Mealamu, 17 Ofa Tu'ungafasi, 18 Angus Ta'avao/Sam Prattley, 19 Hayden Triggs, 20 Akira Ioane, 21 Jamison Gibson-Park/Bryn Hall, 22 Simon Hickey, 23 George Moala.
Date: Friday, March 13
Venue: FMG Stadium, Palmerston North
Kick-off: 19:35 local (06:35 GMT, 17:35 AEDT, 08:35 SAST)
Referee: Glen Jackson (New Zealand)
Assistant Referees: Mike Fraser (New Zealand), Jamie Nutbrown (New Zealand)
TMO: Aaron Paterson (New Zealand)