Beauden Barrett gets nod at No.10 for Blues' Super Rugby opener

Thu, Feb 23
Beauden Barrett, pictured training for the Blues this week, will start at No.10 against Highlanders.

Beauden Barrett will start at No.10 for the Blues in their Super Rugby Pacific opener against the Highlanders in Dunedin on Saturday.

Barrett and Stephen Perofeta shared the first-five duties last season, with coach Leon MacDonald electing to pick Perofeta at fullback for the match at Forsyth Barr Stadium.

Perofeta is one of the front-runners, along with Damian McKenzie, to be the incumbent All Blacks’ first-five from next year as both Barrett and Crusader Richie Mo’unga take up overseas contracts.

McKenzie is starting at No.10 for the Chiefs against the Crusaders in Christchurch tomorrow night.

The Blues, beaten finalists at Eden Park by the Crusaders last season, have 13 All Blacks in their starting line-up.

One of them, prop Nepo Laulala, is poised to bring up 100 Super Rugby games this weekend.

“Nepo’s a quiet achiever and someone who speaks with his actions,” said MacDonald.

“He’s a rock in our pack and certainly brings an edge for us at scrum time. I wouldn’t want to be training against him week-in, week-out, let alone playing against him.”

“We’re wishing him all the best for his 100th Super Rugby match and will be doing everything we can to get a win to note his milestone match.”

Akira Ioane, Hoskins Sotutu and Dalton Papali'i make up a powerful loose forward trio, with Roger Tuivasa-Sheck named at second-five alongside Rieko Ioane at centre.

"This week has been about our standards, and playing to a level we know we are capable of.

"The team is excited to get going and we know a fast start is always helpful to get some momentum into the campaign."

Lock Sam Darry (knee), prop Alex Hodgman (illness), prop James Lay (ankle), halfback Sam Nock (calf), inside back Harry Plummer (ribs) and loose forward Tom Robinson (illness) were unavailable.

Blues team to play Highlanders at Forsyth Barr Stadium on Saturday, kick-off 7.05pm is:

1. Ofa Tuungafasi

2. Kurt Eklund

3. Nepo Laulala

4. Patrick Tuipulotu

5. Cameron Suafoa

6. Akira Ioane

7. Dalton Papalii

8. Hoskins Sotutu

9. Finlay Christie

10. Beauden Barrett

11. Caleb Clarke

12. Roger Tuivasa-Sheck

13. Rieko Ioane

14. Mark Telea

15. Stephen Perofeta


16. Ricky Riccitelli

17. Joshua Fusitu’a

18. Marcel Renata

19. James Tucker

20. Adrian Choat

21. Taufa Funaki

22. Bryce Heem

23. AJ Lam


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