NZ latest – Blues bench AB stars brings you news from New Zealand’s rugby franchises.

Blues bench AB stars – Blues coach Pat Lam has made six changes to the side that lost to the Sharks last week.

Luke McAlister will start at flyhalf against the Lions, while captain Keven Mealamu sits on the bench. Tom McCartney replaces Mealamu at hooker while Jerome Kaino will lead the team.

Luke Braid replaces brother Daniel at flank and Kurtis Haiu is in for Anthony Boric at lock. Sherwin Stowers gets a start on the wing and Peter Saili is handed an opportunity at No 8.

Blues – 15 Isaia Toeava, 14 Joe Rokocoko, 13 Jared Payne, 12 Benson Stanley, 11 Sherwin Stowers, 10 Luke McAlister, 9 Alby Mathewson, 8 Peter Saili, 7 Luke Braid, 6 Jerome Kaino (c), 5 Ali Williams, 4 Kurtis Haiu, 3 John Afoa, 2 Tom McCartney, 1 Tony Woodcock.
Subs: 16 Keven Mealamu, 17 Charlie Faumuina, 18 Anthony Boric, 19 Daniel Braid, 20 Toby Morland, 21 Stephen Brett, 22 Rene Ranger.

SBW debuts for Crusaders – Sonny Bill Williams will start at No 12 when the Crusaders play the Waratahs this Friday.

Williams has recovered from a foot injury and will replace Adam Whitelock, who moves to wing. The only other changes are to the reserves, with Quenton MacDonald and Tom Marshall joining the bench.

Crusaders – 15 Israel Dagg, 14 Sean Maitland, 13 Robbie Fruean, 12 Sonny Bill Williams, 11 Adam Whitelock, 10 Daniel Carter, 9 Andy Ellis, 8 Kieran Read (c), 7 Matt Todd, 6 George Whitelock, 5 Sam Whitelock, 4 Brad Thorn, 3 Owen Franks, 2 Corey Flynn, 1 Wyatt Crockett .
Subs: 16 Quentin MacDonald, 17 Ben Franks, 18 Chris Jack, 19 Jonathan Poff, 20 Willi Heinz, 21 Matt Berquist, 22 Tom Marshall.