Two-time World Player of the year Beauden Barrett makes his return to the flyhalf role this weekend as the Blues gear up for their game against the Chiefs.
Beauden Barrett has been playing fullback for the side in Aotearoa rugby this season but has been shifted back to the pivotal position – his preferred position – because of injury in the side. It will be his first outing in the position in almost a year.
Otere Black, who was doing duty at flyhalf, has been provisionally named on the bench after suffering a neck injury in the team’s loss to the Hurricanes last weekend.
But world player Beauden Barrett’s return to 10 will be closely watched after he endured some criticism last weekend for his performance against the Hurricanes.
Assistant coach Daniel Halangahu told local journalists Friday Barrett is in fine form.
“I’d say he’s the best running 10 in the world, and probably the best we’ve ever seen as a running 10,” Halangahu said.
“It’s certainly been a bit of a lesson for the guys just how flat and hard Beauden can play through that channel. He’s going to be flat and if he takes off he’s as fast as anyone out on the field. We’re all excited to see him out there.”
Beauden Barrett last played flyhalf when the All Blacks beat Tonga 92-7 in September.
Dan Carter has been rested for another week after suffering a calf strain at training last If Black is ruled out then Harry Plummer will be on the bench.
Coach Leon Macdonald defended his decision to play Barrett at fullback earlyin the season.
“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 have 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.
“Overall we want a much more focussed and energetic effort this week, particularly from the pack so we can supply some front-foot ball to set our backline into action.”
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“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 in front 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.”