LIVE: Winless Waratahs out to break 2021 duck

BLUES vs WARATAHS, Saturday 2.35pm AEST in Auckland

Blues coach Leon MacDonald has made three changes to his starting side from the one that battered the Rebels in Melbourne last weekend.

Star No.8 Hoskins Sotutu is out with a toe injury, with fellow All Black Akira Ioane a ready-made replacement.

Blake Gibson comes in for Adrian Choat at openside flanker while Ofa Tuungafasi starts at tighthead prop ahead of Marcel Renata.

All Blacks forwards Patrick Tuipulotu and Dalton Papalii are being eased back via the bench after recovering from injury.

Meanwhile, the Waratahs have named an old fashioned bolter in their starting XV, with Northern Suburbs winger James Turner whistled into the side.

The Shute Shield’s leading try scorer last year, Turner only joined the Waratahs last week but comes straight into the lineup for Mark Nawaqanitawase.

“James has been outstanding in the Shute Shield this season for Norths and deserves his selection,” Waratahs co-coach Jason Gilmore said.

“We brought him into the squad last week and he has been just as impressive on the training field.

“We’ve got a lot of faith in him and are excited to see what he can do in Super Rugby.”

Wallabies backrower Jack Dempsey returns from a foot injury and is on the bench.

“Demmo is a great ball carrier and it’s great to have an experienced senior player back in the squad,” Gilmore said.

“He adds another dimension to our pack and we’re looking for a real impact from him off the bench late in the game.”

BLUES (15-1): Zarn Sullivan, Bryce Heem, Rieko Ioane, TJ Faiane, AJ Lam, Otere Black, Finlay Christie, Akira Ioane, Blake Gibson, Tom Robinson (c), Josh Goodhue, Gerard Cowley-Tuioti, Ofa Tuungafasi, Kurt Eklund, Karl Tu’inukuafe

Reserves: Soane Vikena, Alex Hodgman, Marcel Renata, Patrick Tuipulotu, Dalton Papalii, Sam Nock, Harry Plummer, Mark Telea, Jacob Ratumaitavuki-Kneepkens

WARATAHS (15-1): Jack Maddocks, Alex Newsome, Izaia Perese, Lalakai Foketi, James Turner, Ben Donaldson, Jake Gordon (c), Will Harris, Charlie Gamble, Lachie Swinton, Max Douglas, Hugh Sinclair, Harry Johnson-Holmes, David Porecki, Angus Bell

Reserves: Joe Cotton, Te Tera Faulkner, Darcy Breen, Jack Whetton, Jack Dempsey, Carlo Tizzano, Jack Grant, Will Harrison

Referee: Brendon Pickerill (NZ)

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