Blues v Queensland Reds
Eden Park, Auckland, Friday 5.35pm (AEST)
Last meeting: Played 17 Blues 8 Reds 8 drawn 1
Head-to-head: Semi-final 2011 - Reds 30 bt Blues 13 at Suncorp Stadium
In Auckland: Played 6 Blues 3 Reds 3
Referee: Craig Joubert (RSA)
TV: Live, FoxSports 3
TAB Sportsbet: Blues $1.40 Reds $2.85
Greg Growden writes: If a team is going to beat the Blues at home, this is the moment, as they've lost the plot. The Reds have the ability, but are short of several important players and that could see the Blues have a rare moment of joy in an otherwise abominable season.
AAP writes: It would have been impossible to predict that last year's semi-final combatants would enter this clash with just one win between them in their last 10 matches combined. While the Reds have struggled badly due to backline injury woes, the Blues have simply under-performed terribly. Under-fire Piri Weepu has lost some weight and gained a chance to silence the knockers at halfback but the Blues will be without Test prop Tony Woodcock (calf). Digby Ioane makes his long-awaited return from suspension at outside centre in a major boost for Queensland. It looms as a battle of the breakdown with the Reds naming both their ball scavengers, Liam Gill and Beau Robinson, and the Blues going the same way with Luke and Daniel Braid.
BLUES: Hadleigh Parkes, George Moala, Rene Ranger, Ma'a Nonu, Rudi Wulf, Gareth Anscombe, Piri Weepu, Peter Saili, Luke Braid (capt), Daniel Braid, Filo Paulo, Ali Williams, Charlie Faumuina, Tom McCartney, Tevita Mailau. Reserves: James Parsons, Pauliasi Manu/Angus Ta'avao, Liaki Moli, Chris Lowrey, Alby Mathewson, Michael Hobbs, Benson Stanley (one to be omitted).
REDS: Luke Morahan, Dom Shipperley, Digby Ioane, Mike Harris, Rod Davies, Ben Lucas, Will Genia; Scott Higginbotham, Liam Gill, Beau Robinson, James Horwill (capt), Rob Simmons, James Slipper, James Hanson, Ben Daley. Reserves: Albert Anae, Greg Holmes, Adam Wallace-Harrison, Jake Schatz, Ed Quirk, Nick Frisby, Anthony Faingaa.