Blues move off bottom of table

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James Mortimer     02 Jul 2012     Getty Images

It might be small consolation for the franchise after what has been arguably their worst season in terms of results, but gives them precious breathing space to avoid the dreaded yet never awarded 'wooden-spoon'.

While the Blues will finish bottom of the New Zealand Conference regardless, they will hope to sign off their season with a couple of good results, and perhaps leapfrog the Force and Rebels in the closing fortnight.

The Western Australians will be the next opponents for the Blues and final visitors to Eden Park this season.

The Blues closing game for the 2012 campaign will be against the Brumbies in Canberra, and a few bad memories will be able to be consigned to memory if they are able to topple the Australian Conference leaders.

The next two weeks may also see the remarkable return of Orene Ai’i, who last pulled on a Blues jumper in 2004.

Still to be given a green light to play officially by the New Zealand Rugby Union, Al'i is giving support to a mangled Blues roster, with winger David Raikuna breaking his leg last month.

With Gareth Anscombe out for the rest of the season, Michael Hobbs suffering from a leg injury, Wider Training Group halfback Wayne Ngaluafe out for the year, while Lachie Munro will likely shift to wing to cover for injury, Al'i could be a late season saviour for the three-time champions in the playmaking ranks.

Al'i has been training with the Blues while the All Blacks were in camp during the Steinlager Series, and coach Pat Lam said it was great to have the 32-year-old link back up with a team he won a Super Rugby title with in 2003.

“He’s part of our franchise having signed for Northland and when we went to Hong Kong he played very well at 10 for the Barbarians so I thought it would be good for him to join us as injury cover,” Lam said.

“He has a great deal of experience and it covers a hole for us so at this stage he’s been allowed to come and train and hopefully we can get him involved.

"We don’t want to arrive on the week of the game and have no ten so it’s important he’s here to train and learn as much as he can because it’s such a crucial position.”