Super Rugby 2020: Confusion reigns over Beauden Barrett's Blues debut

The Blues have had to make an embarrassing U-turn, after revealing star recruit Beauden Barrett was set for a round-seven Super Rugby debut - a month earlier than anticipated.

Instead, the Auckland-based franchise will still be without the All Blacks playmaker until at least mid-April, as he sees out his sabbatical.

Back from holiday and fronting up to work, Barrett has made his first appearance at Blues training since the new season began, but his return to play is clearly still a work in progress.

"He's down to play probably round seven, something like that," says forwards coach Tom Coventry. "That's what we've got planned."

Those plans were dashed as quickly as they were divulged, with the franchise issuing a hurried rebuttal that insisted Coventry's "casual comment" was "not accurate".

And for now, the focus remains on ensuring all the squad's first-fives are up to speed - regardless of when Barrett's available.

"Things can change, Beauden might get injured round one and we have to use the guys who are doing the role, so it's all about the team that's on the grass at the moment," says Coventry. 

But as the Blues continue to wait on their All Blacks star, the Crusaders welcome theirs back for Friday's derby, with Richie Mo'unga cleared of the knee and groin injuries that kept him out of last weekend's loss.

That'll be little comfort to the Blues, who haven't beaten the Crusaders since 2014, but Robertson warns that counts for nothing.

"If you look at the last few years, they've led us, we've had to come from behind to get them, they've pushed us late in games," reflects Robertson. "These are tough games, they're all earned."

The Blues will be desperate to earn this one and ensure their season doesn't derail, before they get the services of their star signing.

Join us at 7pm Friday for live updates of the Blues v Crusaders Super Rugby clash