The Blues want to farewell Jerome Kaino with an upset Super Rugby win when the curtain comes down on their forgettable Super Rugby campaign.
Coach Tana Umaga’s men will try to end an 18-match winless run against Kiwi opponents when they face the defending champion Crusaders in Christchurch on Saturday.
They may need to rely on complacency from the hosts, who are confirmed top qualifiers for the finals after winning their past 11 games.
Umaga believes his players will lift for 35-year-old All Blacks stalwart Kaino, whose 139th game for the Blues is his last before departing for French club Toulouse.
“This game means a lot. We want to send Jerome off in the best possible fashion,” Umaga said.
“We are going into a cauldron in Christchurch but we have to go with eyes wide open and also take confidence from the game last week.”
The 42-24 loss to the Hurricanes was their 11th, leaving the former Super Rugby powerhouses on the verge of equalling their second-worst season record.
The worst was a 3-13 return in 2015, the final season under John Kirwan before Umaga began his unflattering tenure.
The Blues’ lone starting change this week is at lock, where Ben Nee-Nee replaces the injured Matiaha Martin.
The Crusaders have made six changes from the team who trumped the Highlanders 45-22.
Only one member of their all-All Black tight five – captain Sam Whitelock – remains while Israel Dagg returns at fullback in just his fourth appearance of an injury-ravaged season.
CRUSADERS: Israel Dagg, Seta Tamanivalu, Jack Goodhue, Ryan Crotty, George Bridge, Richie Mo’unga, Mitchell Drummond, Kieran Read, Matt Todd, Jordan Taufua, Sam Whitelock (capt), Quinten Strange, Michael Alaalatoa, Andrew Makalio, Tim Perry. Res: Sam Anderson-Heather, Wyatt Crockett, Donald Brighouse, Luke Romano, Pete Samu, Bryn Hall, Mitchell Hunt, Manasa Mataele.
BLUES: Matt Duffie, Melani Nanai, Michael Collins, Rieko Ioane, Caleb Clarke, Stephen Perofeta, Augustine Pulu (capt), Akira Ioane, Blake Gibson, Jerome Kaino, Ben Nee-Nee, Gerard Cowley-Tuioti, Ofa Tuungafasi, Matt Moulds, Alex Hodgman. Res: Ross Wright, Pauliasi Manu, Sione Mafileo, Jacob Pierce, Murphy Taramai, Sam Nock, Bryn Gatland, Tamati Tua.