Risk and reward has shaped the Blues team named for their Super Rugby Pacific game with the Waratahs in Sydney on Saturday.

Having breathing space at the top of the points table, coach Leon MacDonald has taken the chance to relieve pressure on his leading players while rewarding squad contributors with the opportunity for game time. 

MacDonald said there was a chance many could be involved in the playoffs at some stage.

That has provided Jock McKenzie with his first start at first five-eighths.

MacDonald said, "Jock's attitude and his demeanour are very calm.

"He reads a game well and has a rugby brain. His kicking, passing game is outstanding. He's a fantastic kicker of the ball.

"He's pretty young. It's a big ask to drive the team around, but he's been doing it all year really well [at training], so we've got a lot of confidence in him.

"We're pretty proud around what he's got to offer and he'll do himself proud at the weekend. He's got a big future," he said.

Captain for the day, lock Luke Romano, said he and fellow lock Josh Goodhue had played a lot of Super Rugby, and it would be up to them to lead the pack.

"That's just us nailing our core roles, our lineout, our scrum, our attack work and also on defence. We don't need to do anything special just lead by our actions and nail our roles," he said. 

MacDonald said the selection had not been a tough decision because they had seen the training field evidence that the players selected were ready to go.

"They're desperately keen to do well. There's plenty for us to play for still. This game is important for us, we don't want to lose momentum. We're going over there to win and that's important for us as well."

Both MacDonald and Romano have been in similar positions as top qualifiers in Super Rugby seasons of the past with the Crusaders. Romano said the important thing for the team at this stage was consistency.

They would be applying all they had learned from likely opponents in the playoffs earlier in the season. Saturday was another opportunity to continue in that vein and get better with each game.

"We're going over there to win. That's an exciting team that we've got, there's some awesome talent in it," he said.

MacDonald said they were not looking to the playoffs. They were preparing for the Waratahs.

"We want to put in a really good performance so we have good momentum and confidence going into the playoffs," he said.

It wasn't a case of the players not travelling having a rest. They would train as a group, as those who stayed behind always did, and would replicate a game on Saturday for a good hit out, he said.

At the same time it would allow those players to freshen their bodies up.

"This time of year a lot of it is mental and winning that mental battle with yourself, telling yourself you're not that sore and you're ready to go again. It's been a long, tough season for a lot of players and teams and this is when you have to show a little bit of mental resolve and steel," he said.

Romano said the Blues had a chance to put themselves in a good position, and having the captaincy duties was something he was proud to do.