Blues coy on potential Barrett return

Blues coach Vern Cotter said that Beauden Barrett had been a “great asset” at training but stopped short of confirming his place in the team. Asked on Thursday at the Blues’ training base at Alexandra Park about any update on Barrett’s availability, Cotter answered “no, nothing.”

“He’s been a great asset, he’s helping us prepare for the Crusaders and move forward,” Cotter said.

“It’s great to have him around if something happens… you never know, but at the moment he’s on the (training) field helping us.”

Cotter admitted he did not know whether Barrett could be rushed back into the team, who have a big clash with the Chiefs next weekend at Eden Park to finish the regular season.

“I don’t even know the regulations. If someone says he can play we’ll consider him, eventually, to take the field,” Cotter said.

The Blues have named Stephen Perofeta at fullback and Harry Plummer at first five this weekend, despite Perofeta being a late withdrawal from the team’s fixture against the Highlanders on Saturday night. Cotter said that the current group of playmakers, including in form utility Cole Forbes, have welcomed the 123-test All Black’s showing at training.

“I think they’ve taken it as a positive, he’s on the field preparing us and he’s not available to play. And that’s where it sits. He’s offered ideas, he needs time to adjust.”

Cotter said that it was not a spur-of-the-moment decision for Barrett to rejoin his Super Rugby team after a season in the Japanese domestic competition with Tokyo Verblitz.

“There’s been conversations in the last months around that… he’s been instigating a lot of it, he wants to know what we’re doing and how things are tracking.”

Meanwhile, Blues skipper and All Black teammate Patrick Tuipulotu said that Barrett had initially made a low-key return to the side.

“Yeah, he’s quietly snuck in. It’s good to have him back, his experience and wealth of knowledge is pretty extensive, so it’ll help us out. It makes a difference, a big difference actually. Just having him sitting in on strategy meetings and whatnot.”

The Blues face the Crusaders on Saturday night at Apollo Projects Stadium in Christchurch, with a win consigning the reigning champions’ season to an ignominious end before the play-offs have even begun.

Crusaders v Blues

Kick-off: 7:05pm Saturday 25 May

Apollo Projects Stadium, Christchurch

Live blog updates on RNZ Sport

Crusaders: 15 Johnny McNicholl, 14 Chay Fihaki, 13 Levi Aumua, 12 David Havili, 11 Sevu Reece, 10 Fergus Burke, 9 Noah Hotham, 8 Christian Lio-Willie, 7 Ethan Blackadder, 6 Cullen Grace, 5 Quinten Strange, 4 Antonio Shalfoon, 3 Fletcher Newell, 2 Codie Taylor (c), 1 Joe Moody

Bench: 16 George Bell, 17 George Bower, 18 Tamaiti Williams, 19 Jamie Hannah, 20 Tom Christie, 21 Mitchell Drummond, 22 Taha Kemara, 23 Dallas McLeod

Blues: 15 Stephen Perofeta, 14 Mark Tele’a, 13 Rieko Ioane, 12 Corey Evans, 11 AJ Lam, 10 Harry Plummer, 9 Taufa Funaki, 8 Hoskins Sotutu, 7 Adrian Choat, 6 Akira Ioane, 5 Sam Darry, 4 Patrick Tuipulotu (c), 3 Angus Ta’avao, 2 Kurt Eklund, 1 Ofa Tu’ungafasi

Bench: 16 Ricky Riccitelli, 17 Joshua Fusitu’a, 18 PJ Sheck, 19 Josh Beehre, 20 Cameron Suafoa, 21 Sam Nock, 22 Cole Forbes, 23 Caleb Tangitau

According to the news on Radio New Zealand

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