Benji Marshall on bench, Hickey starts for Blues

03:08, Mar 20 2014
2014 Blues season
Tom Donnelly on the charge against the Highlanders in Dunedin.
2014 Blues season
Chris Noakes of the Blues, centre, is hit hard by Brad Thorn, left.
2014 Blues season
A bloodied Peter Saili shows his battle scars from the clash with the Highlanders.
2014 Blues season
Benji Marshall, right, made his Super Rugby debut for the Blues in Dunedin. Here he is grappling for the ball with Highlander Richard Buckman.
Keven Mealamu and Benji Marshall
Keven Mealamu congratulates Benji Marshall after the Blues' dominant victory over the Crusaders.
Simon Hickey
Super Rugby rookie Simon Hickey kicks the ball clear.
Frank Halai
Blues wing Frank Halai is tackled by Crusaders prop Tim Perry.
George Moala
George Moala breaks through the Crusaders defence.
Steven Luatua
Steven Luatua is shown a yellow card by referee Garrett Williamson.
Blues 2014 season
Tom Donnelly of the Blues, far right, fires out a pass under pressure from the Bulls' chasers.
Blues 2014 season
James Parsons of the Blues, centre, leads a team talk during his side's clash with the Bulls in South Africa.
Blues 2014 season
Blues halfback Piri Weepu goes searching for the ball against the Bulls.
Piri Weepu of the Blues
Blues lock Liaki Moli in action against the Bulls.
Frank Halai
Blues wing Frank Halai is pulled down short of the try line.
George Moala
George Moala flings a pass back in-field as he's grabbed by the ankle.
Simon Hickey
Substitute first-five Simon Hickey gets a Blues attacking move started.
Luke Braid
Luke Braid crashes into a Lions player in Johannesburg.
Charles Piutau
Charles Piutau drags a Lions player with him, as Benji Marshall and Chris Noakes support.
2014 Blues season
Charles Piutau makes a break for the Blues against the Highlanders at Eden Park.
2014 Blues season
Benji Marshall of the Blues takes on the Highlanders defence.
2014 Blues season
Young Blues first five Simon Hickey lines up a kick at goal against the Highlanders at Eden Park.
2014 Blues season
Former All Black Jerome Kaino made a winning return to the Blues against the Highlanders.
2014 Blues season
Joe Tomane of the Brumbies tackles Blues wing Charles Piutau as the teams square off in Canberra.
2014 Blues season
Blues flanker Steven Luatua tries to get to grips with the Brumbies' Pat McCabe.
2014 Blues season
Blues halfback Bryn Hall spins a lovely pass from a ruck during his team's clash with the Brumbies in Canberra.
2014 Blues season
Benji Marshall has a cut at the Brumbies defence in Canberra.
2014 Blues season
Bryn Hall of the Blues runs the ball during their round ten match against the Hurricanes.
2014 Blues season
George Moala of the Blues is tackled by Dane Coles of the Hurricanes.
2014 Blues season
Chris Noakes of the Blues is tackled by Beauden Barrett of the Hurricanes.
2014 Blues season
Jerome Kaino of the Blues is tackled by Jeffery Toomaga-Allen of the Hurricanes.
2014 Blues season
Jerome Kaino of the Blues charges forward during their match against the Waratahs.
2014 Blues season
Peter Saili of the Blues offloads the ball in the tackle of Michael Hooper of the Waratahs.
2014 Blues season
Luke Braid of the Blues is tackled by Dave Dennis of the Waratahs.
2014 Blues season
Piri Weepu of the Blues during their match against the Waratahs.
2014 Blues season
Flanker Jerome Kaino looks a beaten man during the Blues' loss to the Chiefs in New Plymouth.
2014 Blues season
Blues coach Sir John Kirwan gives his side some instruction in New Plymouth.
2014 Blues season
Blues centre Ma'a Nonu spins a pass out under pressure from the Chiefs' Bundee Aki.
2014 Blues season
Blues winger Frank Halai makes a charge against the Chiefs at Yarrow Stadium.
Blues 2014 season
Lolagi Visinia of the Blues charges at the Reds defence at Eden Park.
Blues 2014 season
Blues centre George Moala sends Kiwi-born Reds playmaker Quade Cooper crashing to the ground.
Blues 2014 season
Blues No 10 Simon Hickey is tackled by the Reds' Jake Schatz during their teams' clash at Eden Park in Auckland.
2014 Blues season
Ihaia West of the Blues is congratulated by teammate Steven Luatua after scoring a try against the Reds at Eden Park.
Ma'a Nonu
Ma'a Nonu (left) celebrates with team mate George Moala after a try during the round 17 Super Rugby match between the Force and the Blues at nib Stadium in Perth.
Peter Saili
Peter Saili of the Blues is tackled during his side's round 17 Super Rugby match against the Force.
Ma'a Nonu
Blues second-five Ma'a Nonu is tackled during his side's win over the Force in Perth.
Dane Haylett-Petty
Dane Haylett-Petty of the Force is smashed by the Blues defence during a Super Rugby meeting between the two sides in round 17.
Steven Luatua
Steven Luatua of the Blues is tackled during his side's win over the Force in Perth.
Ma'a Nonu
Blues star Ma'a Nonu is tackled by Dan Carter of the Crusaders during their round 18 Super Rugby match in Christchurch.
Andy Ellis
Andy Ellis, centre, of the Crusaders is tackled by Blues players Tony Woodcock (left) and Luke Braid (right) during his side's win in Christchurch.
Dominic Bird
Crusaders lock Dominic Bird powers through a number of would-be Blues defenders at AMI Stadium in Christchurch.
Nemani Nadolo
Nemani Nadolo of the Crusaders dives over to score a try against the Blues in round 18.
Dan Carter
Crusaders second-five Dan Carter is tackled by All Blacks team-mate and Blues prop Tony Woodcock.
Jerome Kaino
Jerome Kaino of the Blues is tackled by Andy Ellis of the Crusaders during their round 18 Super Rugby match in Christchurch.
Jerome Kaino
Jerome Kaino bruising as ever in the Blues' round 19 Super Rugby match against the Chiefs.
Jerome Kaino
Keven Mealamu runs onto the pitch ahead of the Blues' final match of the Super Rugby season.
Jerome Kaino
Charles Piutau on a spirited run in the Blues' round 19 Super Rugby match against the Chiefs.
Jerome Kaino
Blues players Francis Saili, Ma'a Nonu, Bryn Hall, Jerome Kaino and Sam Prattley look dejected after losing their last game of the Super Rugby season.
Jerome Kaino
Blues fans felt dejected too.

Sir John Kirwan has made good on the pledge to select his best line-up, dropping Benji Marshall to the bench and reinstating Simon Hickey at first five-eighth for tomorrow's clash with the Cheetahs at Eden Park.

Despite a solid showing in his first start at fullback last week, Marshall has made way for All Blacks utility Charles Piutau, who switches from the left wing to his preferred role at the back.

Piutau has been the Blues' most potent player this year. Kirwan is clearly keen to utilise his abilities, rather than see fleeting moments of attacking brilliance. Tevita Li has made a swift recovery from a hand injury to take his place on the left wing.  

Simon Hickey and Benji Marshall
IN AND OUT: Simon Hickey (left) will start at No 10 for the Blues, while Benji Marshall has lost his spot in the starting lineup at fullback, dropping to the bench.

It also appears Kirwan has, finally, settled on Hickey at 10.

The rookie's recall is the fourth change at pivot in five matches and hopefully spells an end to the trial-like process the Blues had adopted thus far. Hickey's promotion sees Chris Noakes left out of the squad.

No 8 Peter Saili returns to the back of the scrum and a leg injury to lock Patrick Tuipulotu paves the way for Hayden Triggs to make his debut for a fourth New Zealand Super Rugby team, off the pine.   

Kirwan has resisted the urge to give halfback Bryn Hall a start ahead of Piri Weepu. Hall's cameo off the bench in Johannesburg last week was a major factor in the Blues' near-miraculous comeback.  

As expected, star recruits Jerome Kaino and Ma'a Nonu will play their first match of the year from the bench.

BLUES: Charles Piutau, Frank Halai, George Moala, Jackson Willison, Tevita Li, Simon Hickey, Piri Weepu, Peter Saili, Luke Braid (c), Steven Luatua, Tom Donnelly, Liaki Moli, Charlie Faumuina, James Parsons, Tony Woodcock. Reserves: Tom McCartney, Angus Ta'avao, Ofa Tu'ungafasi,  Jerome Kaino, Hayden Triggs, Bryn Hall, Ma'a Nonu, Benji Marshall

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