The Blues will open their Super Rugby Aotearoa campaign against the Hurricanes in front of a full house at Eden Park on Sunday.

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The Auckland franchise announced on Saturday that all 41,000 tickets for the match, which doubles as the highly-anticipated Blues debut for All Blacks star Beauden Barrett against his former side, had been sold.

Tickets for the match went on sale following the announcement from the New Zealand Government that the nation would be moving into Alert Level 1 on Monday, allowing fans to attend live sporting events without restriction.

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Super Rugby Aotearoa

The allure of $20 adult tickets with accompanying children being admitted for free means the Blues will play in front of their biggest home crowd since May 2005, when 45,000 watched on as Tana Umaga played his 100th match for the Hurricanes at Eden Park.

By comparison, the All Blacks attracted 48,300 fans for their Bledisloe Cup clash with the Wallabies at Eden Park last year.

That offer of free admission for children alongside a paying adult ended on Thursday due to the sheer interest that promotion attracted.

Members from both camps have expressed their excitement at the growing crowd figures over the course of the week, with Barrett eager to take to the field for the first time since the All Blacks’ third place play-off win over Wales at the World Cup last November.

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“If we get [over 35,000] that’s fantastic and it’s even better that we are playing afternoon rugby,” Barrett said earlier in the week.

“I think the product should be better for it as well so lets hope the lungs hang in there and the game is a competitive one.”

Hurricanes head coach Jason Holland echoed that sentiment as his side prepares to take to the field after three months out of action.

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“It’s awesome for the game that so many people are keen to get back involved in it. Everyone is just pumped and it’s going to be a great day. The more the merrier up there, that’d be great,” he said.

In Dunedin, meanwhile, latest figures show that Forsyth Barr Stadium is close to selling out for the Super Rugby Aotearoa opener between the Highlanders and Chiefs on Saturday night.

With 22,500 tickets available for what will be the first match of professional rugby in front of a live crowd since the COVID-19 outbreak, latest figures show around 20,000 have been sold with hours until kick-off.

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