Blues first-five Piers Francis has returned from a wrist injury which ruled him out of his team's bonus point victory over the Bumbies and will wear the No10 jersey against the Waratahs in Sydney on Saturday.

The return of Francis, who has been selected to play for England in Argentina next month, means Bryn Gatland drops to the reserves bench.

The rest of the side remains unchanged from the line-up which scored three tries against the Brumbies in Canberra for their second away victory of the season.

Coach Tana Umaga said the clash against the Waratahs would be a major battle.


"We are very evenly matched in stats this year in most parts of the game so we are expecting a very hard encounter," he said.

"They are a quality side across the park with mobile forwards; they are excellent at the breakdown and have some world-class running backs.

"We've constantly said that we need to improve week by week and we will definitely need to step up again."

Umaga said he was pleased with the effort from the forwards against the Brumbies.

"The front five laid the platform from which the rest of the team were able to prosper. They will need to be at their very best again in all facets of the game."

The team is facing the second of a challenging six-match run that sees them at home against the Cheetahs next Friday ahead of a one-off trek against the Stormers in South Africa, returning to meet the Chiefs and then travelling to Samoa to take on the Reds.

The Blues team to play the Waratahs at Allianz Stadium on Saturday, kick-off 9.40pm is:
1 Pauliasi Manu, 2 James Parsons (c), 3 Charlie Faumuina, 4 Gerard Cowley-Tuioti, 5 Scott Scrafton, 6 Steven Luatua, 7 Blake Gibson, 8 Akira Ioane; 9 Augustine Pulu, 10 Piers Francis, 11 Rieko Ioane, 12 Sonny Bill Williams, 13. George Moala, 14 Matt Duffie, 15 Michael Collins.
Replacements: 16 Matt Moulds, 17 Ofa Tu'ungafasi, 18 Sione Mafileo, 19 Leighton Price, 20 Murphy Taramai, 21 Billy Guyton, 22 Bryn Gatland, 23 Melani Nanai.