On the back of two straight wins, Blues head coach Leon MacDonald has resisted any change to his starting line-up for the third round of the Investec Super Rugby Aotearoa against the Highlanders, set for Saturday 27 at Auckland.
Patrick Tuipolatu captains the side and is paired alongside Josh Goodhue at second row, with Alex Hodgman, James Parsons and Ofa Tuungafasi leading the pack at front row. Akira Ioane starts at blindside while Dalton Papalii is at his opposite at openside. Hard hitting Hoskins Sotutu starts at eight.
Sam Knock and Otere Black continue with their fine halfback pairing at nine and ten respectively, with TJ Faiane and Rieko Ioane teaming up for midfield duties. Wingers Caleb Clarke and Mark Telea join Bauden Barret at the back three.
The Blues prevailed over the Highlanders 33-26 at Eden Park last year while the tight battle between the two sides is evidenced with nine of last 17 clashes decided by seven points or less.
Blues Team: 15 Beauden Barrett, 14 Mark Telea, 13 Rieko Ioane, 12 TJ Faiane, 11 Caleb Clarke, 10 Otere Black, 9 Sam Nock; 8 Hoskins Sotutu, 7 Dalton Papalii, 6 Akira Ioane, 5 Josh Goodhue, 4 Patrick Tuipulotu ©, 3 Ofa Tuungafasi, 2 James Parsons, 1 Alex Hodgman.
Reserves: 16 Kurt Eklund, 17 Marcel Renata, 18 Sione Mafileo, 19 Gerard Cowley-Tuioti, 20 Tony Lamborn, 21 Finlay Christie, 22 Harry Plummer, 23 Joe Marchant.