Stepping into lock Patrick Tuipulotu's shoes, Papalii has 45 caps for the side behind and has appeared 12 times in All Blacks Tests.
Blues coach Leon MacDonald said Papalii epitomised what the Blues were about.
"A born-and-raised Auckland, he has come through the Blues system. His work ethic is second-to-none to go with his immense skill, speed and tenacity."
While, at 24, he was still young in rugby terms, he was part of the Blues' leadership group and was already an important cog in the franchise on and off the field.
"We believe he is ready to take on the captaincy," MacDonald said.
Papalii, who will have players like Beauden Barrett, Harry Plummer and Tom Robinson around him, said he was humbled to be asked to take on the role.
“We have a bunch of my teammates who have international experience, and I am going to be calling on them within our leadership group.”
He has also been in touch with Tuipulotu, who is on sabbatical in Japan, for advice.
"We are all buying into what we stand for, and what we want to achieve. We have some challenges with this time away in Queenstown, but we need to put in the māhi every single day," he said.
Blues chief executive Andrew Hore said the franchise had put a family plan in place for the squad in Queenstown, but the decision having been made for the first weeks of the competition, the Blues management was looking to when the side returns to play games in front of their home crowd.
"We're expecting crowds, people who have made their choice regarding vaccinations or not. Those people that have done their double vaccinations should be rewarded with being able to go to these things. I don't think we should be held to ransom by those that haven't," he said.
There were financial implications with the move to Queenstown, and when the team returned seven scenarios had been whittled down to three to handle the different requirements that might develop.
"There is going to be [an] impact, and it will be significant. We believe it is something we can get through.
"We're appreciative of what New Zealand Rugby have done here in working with us and finding solutions because keeping broadcast revenue is important to the game," he said.
There was also hope that trends were moving in the right direction with the hope that the Australian part of the competition would continue with various questions around operating within bubbles still to be resolved.