Barrett Starts At First Five
Beauden Barrett, the two-time world player of the year, will make the first of his six starts for the Blues at firstfive when they host the Chiefs at Eden Park, this afternoon.
Blues coach Leon MacDonald said they brought Beauden to the Blues to run the cutter but after the season-ending injury to Stephen Perofeta, it forced a rethink.
“He was our best option for fullback with the luxury of having another outstanding No.10 in Otere Black,” said MacDonald.
“With Otere carrying a slight injury, then we’ve moved Beauden to 10 and I am sure he is looking forward to that challenge, while Matt Duffie was good when he came on at fullback.”
Loosie Blake Gibson returns after a hamstring twinge to play at openside in his 50tth game.
“We are pleased to have Blake back on the field. He is key part to our loose forward mix both defensively and with ball in hand and I am sure the team want him to enjoy his 50th game with a strong performance.
“Overall we want a much more focused and energetic effort this week, particularly from the pack so we can supply some front-foot ball to set our backline into action.
“Defence has been a key but we missed 30 tackles last week which is not going to enable us to win many games.
“With that issue and a platform that was not as stable as it has been, then to be honest we did well to have our noses Infront inside the last 10 minutes.
“There were lots of good things with our lineout, mauls and some good carries. We know the Chiefs are much better than their results and will bring everything to this match as they always do.
“There’s everything to play for and we are excited to be home at Eden Park in front of a big crowd of fans on Sunday.”
In the reserves All Black Karl Tu’inukuafe and Sam Nock return from injury while utility Emoni Narawa is bracketed with Otere Black, who will need to come through Friday’s contact session.
The match kicks-off at 3.35pm
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 ©, 3 Ofa Tuungafasi, 2 Kurt Eklund, 1 Alex Hodgman.
Reserves: 16 Luteru Tolai, 17 Karl Tu’inukuafe, 18. Sione Mafileo, 19 Josh Goodhue, 20 Tony Lamborn, 21 Sam Nock, 22 Otere Black or Emoni Narawa, 23 Harry Plummer.
Chiefs: 1. Reuben O’Neill 2. Bradley Slater
3. Nepo Laulala 4. Tupou Vaa’i 5. Mitchell Brown 6. Lachlan Boshier 7. Sam Cane © 8. Pita Gus Sowakula 9. Brad Weber 10. Kaleb Trask 11.Solomon Alaimalo 12. Alex Nankivell 13. Anton Lienert-Brown 14. Sean Wainui
15. Damian McKenzie
Reserves: Samisoni Taukei’aho, Ollie Norris, Ross Geldenhuys, Adam Thomson, Mitchell Karpik, Lisati Milo-Harris, Aaron Cruden, Quinn Tupaea - Super Rugby Aotearoa
Blues first five- eighth Beauden Barrett (with ball) works on his kicking while Otere Black looks on during training in Auckland, New Zealand on July 25, 2020. Photo: Blues