Beauden Barrett will shift from fullback to flyhalf in one of five changes to the Blues’ starting lineup for their clash against the Chiefs in Auckland on Sunday.
Barrett – who has been used exclusively at fullback since joining the Blues – will make his first start at 10 for his new side, with doubts lingering over Otere Black’s fitness.
Black came off after a bump to his neck last week against the Hurricanes, and while he passed the HIA, there is stiffness with neck movement. He has been bracketed on the bench with wing Emoni Narawa.
Matt Duffie will take Barrett’s place at fullback and is joined in the back three by Caleb Clarke, who returns to the starting lineup after being rested last weekend. There is also a return to the starting lineup for TJ Faiane, who was utilised off the bench against the Crusaders and Hurricanes.
In the forwards, the Blues have welcomed back flank Blake Gibson, who returns after a hamstring twinge to play at openside in his 50th game. Meanwhile, Gerard Cowley-Tuioti starts at lock, with Josh Goodhue dropping to the bench to manage his workload after starting every match of the Blues’ campaign so far.
In the reserves, there are returns from injury for All Blacks loosehead Karl Tu’inukuafe and scrumhalf Sam Nock, who has missed the last two games.
Blues – 15 Matt Duffie, 14 Mark Telea, 13 Rieko Ioane, 12 TJ Faiane, 11 Caleb Clarke, 10 Beauden Barrett, 9 Finlay Christie, 8 Akira Ioane, 7 Dalton Papalii, 6 Blake Gibson, 5 Gerard Cowley-Tuioti, 4 Patrick Tuipulotu (c), 3 Ofa Tuungafasi, 2 Kurt Eklund, 1 Alex Hodgman.
Subs: 16 Tolai Luteru, 17 Karl Tu’inukuafe,, 18 Sione Mafileo, 19 Josh Goodhue, 20 Tony Lamborn, 21 Sam Nock, 22 Otere Black/Emoni Narawa, 23 Harry Plummer.
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