Blues captain

Papalii back as Blues captain

The team, returned to Auckland on Thursday from its temporary base in Queenstown, is almost the same combination that was pipped 33-32 in the first outing against the Hurricanes.

The only changes to the starting line-up sees Papalii back to full fitness on the openside flank, and NPC player of the year, Stephen Perofeta to start at fullback.

The pack has a strong look with Alex Hodgman, Nepo Laulala, Luke Romano, Hoskins Sotutu and Papalii all having worn the All Black jersey.

Blues captain Augustine Pulu signs for Japanese club

The halfback is joined by teammate and former All Black, Pauliasi Manu.

Pulu has spent the past two Super Rugby seasons with the Auckland-based outfit, and was given the captain's armband at the start of the year by coach Tana Umaga.

He's looking forward to joining the newly promoted Red Dolphins.

"I am very pleased to join Hino Red Dolphins this time and live in Japan with my family," Pulu told the team's website.

Pulu to captain the Blues

Coach Tana Umaga said Pulu, along with previous captains Jerome Kaino and James Parsons, form part of the senior leadership group.

"Both James and Jerome are sidelined for some time from surgeries and I wanted our captain to take the reins on the paddock from day one of training.

"Of course both James and Jerome will continue to play invaluable leadership roles in this team and will be key contributors in all aspects.

"Augie has proven captaincy experience in the Mitre-10 Cup and will add a fresh spark to the team."

Blues captain Jerome Kaino out for month with shoulder injury

Kaino was forced off during the second half of their 25-25 draw with the Queensland Reds in Brisbane last weekend.

He left with his right shoulder in a makeshift sling after a collision with Carmichael Hunt,

The Blues have a bye this week before hosting the Jaguares in their sixth-round clash at Eden Park.