Blues outside back Matt Duffie has yet to renew his contract with the franchise and says he is potentially "jobless" at the end of the year.

But, having been selected to start his first match of the season against the Brumbies in Canberra after recovering from a serious hamstring injury, he at last has an extended opportunity to prove his credentials to what is effectively a new employer in coach Leon MacDonald.

As the father of a seven-month-old daughter, Duffie is more aware than ever of the need for patience, but his has been sorely tested this season.

His comeback from an injury suffered while playing for Harbour against Taranaki last year has taken longer than expected, and he has had to work his way back into the team via two matches off the reserves bench.


Rieko Ioane's All Blacks rest week has helped Duffie's case to be involved from the start at GIO Stadium tomorrow and he is determined to make the most of it.

"As soon as I was injured I wanted to be back in round one," he told the Herald. "I didn't want to miss any games. Obviously with Leon coming there were going to be a few changes and I really wanted to be a part of it.

"You make a plan and you want to attack it as aggressively as you can but it has taken longer than I thought it would. Maybe it was false optimism. You have to remember that we had a block of four games where the boys were winning and playing unreal and I probably wasn't healing as quickly as I thought I would.

"I've had surgeries in the past but they have been for joint injuries and not for soft tissue – it was a bit nigglier than I thought it would be."

That's putting it mildly on several levels. Duffie, 28, had several shoulder and knee operations during his successful league career in Australia before returning to rugby with the Blues in 2016 and his injury last year while playing in the Mitre 10 Cup is not for the squeamish – a hamstring torn off the bone.

This is a key game for both Duffie and the Blues, who have slipped out of the playoffs position during last week's bye and are now in 11th, albeit still within striking distance. A good performance, and probably more importantly a victory, will help confidence levels ahead of home games against the Hurricanes and Chiefs and it could be a platform for Duffie's undoubted talents.

An All Black for two non-test matches in 2017, Duffie isn't a power wing like Caleb Clarke or the still suspended Tanielu Tele'a, but his positional play can't be faulted and he is superb under a high ball – either defensively or offensively.

With Melani Nanai leaving for Worcester next year, Duffie must be an option at fullback. Another fullback, Michael Collins, is also off contract this year.


"Towards the end of last year and this year my intention has always been to stay at the Blues," Duffie said. "I came over with the goal of being successful with the Blues and it hasn't happened yet. That's still my motivation. But it's obviously a business and with the new coaching staff there have been a lot of changes. I just have to get back on the field and play well and that other stuff will look after itself."