Beauden Barrett to make first start at first-five for Blues in revamped line-up for Chiefs

Beauden Barrett will finally get a chance to silence his critics at his preferred role of first-five with the Blues making multiple changes to their team for Sunday's clash with the Chiefs in Auckland.

Source: 1 NEWS

Barrett has been handed the No.10 jersey in a revamped backline with regular first-five Otere Black bracketed on the bench as he nurses a neck injury from last week's loss to the Hurricanes.

“We have always said that we have 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 Blues coach Leon 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."

With Barrett's shift to flyhalf, Matt Duffie has been called in to start at fullback while Mark Telea shifts back to the right wing with Caleb Clarke returning at No.11.

The backline also has TJ Faiane returning to a starting role at second-five for Harry Plummer, who has moved to the bench.

In the forwards, Blake Gibson returns to the starting XV on the openside while Gerard Cowley-Tuioti comes in for a benched Josh Goodhue in the locks.

In the reserves, Karl Tu’inukuafe and Sam Nock return from injury while utility Emoni Narawa is bracketed with Black, who will need to come through Friday’s contact session.

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 ©, 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.