Super Rugby Aotearoa

Blues keep Beauden Barrett at flyhalf for Dunedin trip

Beauden Barrett
Beauden Barrett
Kai Schwoerer/Getty Images

Beauden Barrett will stay at flyhalf for the Blues when they tackle the Highlanders in a Super Rugby Aotearoa clash in Dunedin on Sunday.

Kick-off is at 05:35 (SA time).

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The All Blacks playmaker has been retained in his preferred position by head coach Leon MacDonald after playing fullback earlier in the competition.

This means Otere Black will remain on the bench as Matt Duffie keeps his place at fullback, while the wait for Dan Carter's Blues debut goes on.

MacDonald has named the same 23 players that featured in the 21-17 win over the Chiefs in Auckland last weekend.

The only change is a swap in the front row where All Blacks prop Karl Tu'inukuafe, fully recovered from a niggling hamstring, has his first start in this competition while hard-working Alex Hodgman will come off the bench after six straight starts.

While the Blues are second in the standings, the firm focus this weekend is on bringing the Gordon Hunter Memorial Trophy back to Auckland.

The trophy was established in memory of the late Gordon Hunter, coach of both the Highlanders and the Blues. It has been won on eight occasions by the Blues and 10 times by the Highlanders who have had possession for the past eight years. The challenger can only win the trophy at the home of the holder.

"Gordon was a special man who held a special place for both the Blues and the Highlanders, something we are well aware of," MacDonald told the Blues' official website.

"We would like nothing more than to take the trophy back to Auckland with us. We know that we will need to be at our best to achieve that. Every time we play the Highlanders it is a close affair, as are all the games in this competition.

"We have worked hard again this week and focussed on being more accurate and disciplined at the breakdown but at the same time we want to continue to be physical in the collisions.

"We have to get the job done upfront and give our backs the time and space to show their skills, be both patient as well as capitalise on our chances."

The Blues are looking forward to playing under the roof at Forsyth Barr Stadium with the surface suiting their open running style.

MacDonald said that Tu'inukuafe had earned a start with an eye-catching effort off the bench last week and offers a chance for Hodgman to freshen up after some big minutes in this campaign.

Teams:

Highlanders

15 Mitch Hunt, 14 Josh McKay, 13 Michael Collins, 12 Sio Tomkinson, 11 Scott Gregory, 10 Josh Ioane, 9 Aaron Smith (co-captain), 8 Marino Mikaele-Tu'u, 7 Dillon Hunt, 6 Shannon Frizell, 5 Jack Whetton, 4 Pari Pari Parkinson, 3 Jeff Thwaites, 2 Ash Dixon (co-captain), 1 Ayden Johnstone

Substitutes: 16 Liam Coltman, 17 Ethan de Groot, 18 Siate Tokolahi, 19 Manaaki Selby-Rickit, 20 Jesse Parete, 21 Folau Fakatava, 22 Bryn Gatland, 23 Jona Nareki

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 Blake Gibson, 6 Dalton Papalii, 5 Gerard Cowley-Tuioti, 4 Patrick Tuipulotu (captain), 3 Ofa Tu’ungafasi, 2 Kurt Eklund, 1 Karl Tu'inukuafe

Substitutes: 16 Luteru Tolai, 17 Alex Hodgman, 18 Sione Mafileo, 19 Josh Goodhue, 20 Tony Lamborn, 21 Sam Nock, 22 Otere Black, 23 Harry Plummer