Woodcock loses fitness race

All Blacks prop Tony Woodcock has not recovered from injury and will miss the Blues’ match against the Lions.

Woodcock, Chris Lowrey, George Moala and Rene Ranger have all been ruled out, forcing embattled coach Pat Lam to make further changes to his struggling side.

Gareth Anscombe returns at pivot, while Michael Hobbs shifts one position out to No 12. This in turn sees Ma’a Nonu starting at No 13. Benson Stanley will play on the wing.

Peter Saili comes in at No 8 while Daniel Braid is handed another chance at openside flank. Liaki Moli starts in the second row with Filo Paulo dropping to the bench.

Meanwhile, the Blues will soon advertise for a new head coach rather than wait until the end of what’s been a terrible year for the franchise.

Lam will be allowed to re-apply for his job, although it seems unlikely that his bosses will re-appoint him following such a nightmare 2012 season.

‘The reality is, the results of the Blues to date this season have put considerable focus on the role and as those in the rugby industry know, this is the time coaches look to secure their coaching posts for next year and beyond’ Blues chairman Gary Whetton said.

‘In order to ensure we have the best opportunity to garner interest from coaches both locally and abroad, this position needs to be advertised now.’

Blues – 15 Hadleigh Parkes, 14 David Raikuna, 13 Ma’a Nonu, 12 Michael Hobbs, 11 Benson Stanley, 10 Gareth Anscombe, 9 Piri Weepu, 8 Peter Saili, 7 Daniel Braid, 6 Luke Braid (c), 5 Ali Williams, 4 Liaki Moli, 3 Charlie Faumuina, 2 Tom McCartney, 1 Tevita Mailau:
Subs: 16 James Parsons, 17 Angus Ta’avao, 18 Filo Paulo, 19 Steven Luatua, 20 Alby Mathewson, 21 Lachie Munro, 22 Sherwin Stowers.