The Blues will ensure their entire squad gets game time in the Game of 3 Halves clash against the Crusaders and the Chiefs in Cambridge on Saturday.
They have named two different units for each 40-minute clash including eight All Blacks getting their first taste of game-time, along with several newcomers including Taine Plumtree, AJ Lam, Jacob Ratumaitavuki-Kneepkens, Sam Darry, Neria Fomai and Zarn Sullivan.
Coach Leon MacDonald said his coaching team and players were looking forward to getting back on the field after their disjointed build-up following a Covid-restricted lockdown.
“We have some time to make-up, so mostly we want to focus on some basics in our patterns both with the ball and without it. We can build from there towards our first game in the Sky Super Rugby Aotearoa competition which has come around very quickly,” said MacDonald.
“We will be looking for our processes and our basics and not so much on the scoreline.
“It will be a chance too for our All Blacks to get a taste of rugby, and for a fair number of our new and young players to experience the physicality and speed of Super rugby.”
The Chiefs and Crusaders square off for the first 40-minute spell at 12.05pm kickoff, followed by the Blues against the Crusaders and finally the Blues vs the Chiefs. There is 10 minutes between each stanza.
The match, to be played at the Hautapu Rugby Club, will be televised live on Sky Sport.
Blues team, vs Crusaders:
15 Stephen Perofeta, 14 Jacob Ratumaitavuki-Kneepkens, 13 Rieko Ioane, 12 Harry Plummer, 11 AJ Lam, 10 Otere Black, 9 Jonathan Ruru; 8 Akira Ioane, 7 Blake Gibson, 6 Taine Plumtree, 5 Patrick Tuipulotu ©, 4 Josh Goodhue, 3 Marcel Renata, 2 Luteru Tolai, 1 Karl Tu’inukuafe.
Blues team, vs Chiefs:
15 Zarn Sullivan, 14 Mark Telea, 13 Neria Fomai, 12 Tanielu Tele’a, 11 Caleb Clarke, 10 Stephen Perofeta, 9 Sam Nock; 8 Adrian Choat, 7 Dalton Papalii, 6 Tom Robinson ©, 5 Gerard Cowley-Tuioti, 4 Sam Darry, 3 Nepo Lualala, 2 Kurt Eklund, 1 Alex Hodgman.
Reserves: James Lay, Leni Apisai, Jacob Pierce.
Players not considered with injury: Soane Vikena, Rau Niuia, TJ Faiane, Dillon Hunt, Emoni Narawa, Jone Macalai, Josiah Maraku.