Dan Carter named on Blues bench for Hurricanes clash before injury rules him out

After five years away, All Blacks great Dan Carter was set to make an official return to Super Rugby with his name on the bench for a tweaked Blues line-up.

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Leon MacDonald said Carter's calf injury isn't major but they're playing it safe with the All Blacks great. Source: 1 NEWS

That was until injury struck.

The Blues had named Carter in the No.23 jersey for Saturday evening's game against the Hurricanes in Wellington but the utility back reported calf tightness at training this afternoon and has been subsequently scratched from the reserves.

Matt Duffie has been called in to take Carter's place.

"Dan's just pulled up a little bit tight, it's nothing major," head coach Leon MacDonald said.

"But we want to make sure we don't risk anything with Dan - he's working his way back into conditioning... calves, if you get on top of it early, can only be a couple of days to get it right but if you get onto a bit late it could be three or four weeks."

Carter was set to act as a back-up for most of the Blues' backline which has remained largely unchanged from their loss to the Crusaders last week.

MacDonald said they were happy with how players were performing in their respective roles, despite growing noise around the first-five and fullback positions.

"We have resisted any significant change in the backs," MacDonald said.

"We are very pleased with how [second-five] Harry Plummer is performing, while we believe Otere Black at first-five and Beauden Barrett at fullback is our best option at present as they combine well."

MacDonald's comments come after critics spoke out against Barrett's continued play at fullback with one going as far as calling him a "liability" in the role.

Elsewhere in the backline, the Blues have also lost powerful wing Caleb Clarke who has simply been marked as "unavailable" for the fixture.

Replacing Clarke will be Fijian-born Bay of Plenty winger Emoni Narawa.

In the forwards, Akira Ioane has shifted to No.8 with breakout star Hoskins Sotutu ruled out due to a knee injury.

Aaron Carroll takes over the blindside.

The only other change in the starting squad has Kurt Eklund starting at hooker for the concussed James Parsons. 

Blues: 15 Beauden Barrett, 14 Mark Telea, 13 Rieko Ioane, 12 Harry Plummer, 11 Emoni Narawa, 10 Otere Black, 9 Finlay Christie, 8 Akira Ioane, 7 Dalton Papalii, 6 Aaron Carroll, 5 Josh Goodhue, 4 Patrick Tuipulotu, 3 Ofa Tuungafasi, 2 Kurt Eklund, 1 Alex Hodgman

Reserves: 16 Luteru Tolai, 17 Marcel Renata, 18 Sione Mafileo, 19 Gerard Cowley-Tuioti, 20 Tony Lamborn, 21 Jonathan Ruru, 22 TJ Faiane, 23 Matt Duffie