The Blues have opted to send captain Luke Braid for major shoulder surgery tomorrow which will rule him out of the game until next year's Super Rugby competition.
Coach John Kirwan said they had the option of waiting for another five weeks for Braid's shoulder operation, but decided to get on with it in the hope the loose forward will be available for the start of next season. The recovery period for the rotator cuff surgery is six months.
It was probably also a nod to the Blues' current situation - only a win by 38 points or more against the Chiefs at Eden Park on Friday night will allow them to progress in the competition, but next year is already taking precedence in the Blues' plans.
"He's been carrying it all year," Kirwan said. "He didn't play against the Chiefs in the last game because he got a bang and he got a bang in training this week.
"It'll be quite a long recovery, the next [surgery] date is a month away which would mean he'd miss the first month of next season and while we haven't given up hope of making the finals we've got a great guy to come in in Brendon O'Connor so there's not too much of a loss from a technical point of view."
Prop Tony Woodcock has also been ruled out with a shoulder injury, but in his case the lay-off will be limited to one week.
Francis Saili, back from an injury-plagued season, will start at centre in place of Pita Ahki, who has joined the New Zealand sevens team which will compete at the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow. Saili will join Ma'a Nonu in the Blues midfield.
The Blues team to face the Chiefs at Eden Park on Friday night (kick-off 7.35pm) is:
Blues team to play the Chiefs at Eden Park on Friday, kick-off 7.35pm: Charles Piutau, Lolagi Visinia/George Moala, Francis Saili, Ma'a Nonu, Tevita Li, Ihaia West, Bryn Hall, Jerome Kaino, Brendon O'Connor, Steven Luatu, Tom Donnelly, Patrick Tuipulotu, Charlie Faumuina, Keven Mealamu (c), Sam Prattley, Reserves: James Parsons, Ofa Tu'ungafasi, Angus Ta'avao, Hayden Triggs, Peter Saili, Jamison Gibson-Park, Jackson Willison, George Moala/Albert Nikoro.
Chiefs: Tom Marshall, Asaeli Tikoirotuma, Tim Nanai-Williams, Bundee Aki, James Lowe, Aaron Cruden (c), Tawera Kerr-Barlow, Liam Squire, Tanerau Latimer, Liam Messam, Brodie Retallick, Mike Fitzgerald, Ben Tameifuna, Mahonri Schwalger, Jamie Mackintosh. Reserves: Nathan Harris, Pauliasi Manu, Nick Barrett, Matt Symons, Tevita Koloamatangi, Augustine Pulu, Gareth Anscombe, Dwayne Sweeney.