Hurricanes bring Barrett back for Highlanders clash

Hurricanes first-five Beauden Barrett will make his return to playing Super Rugby in Friday’s crucial match against the Highlanders in Naper.

Barrett has missed the last month of Super Rugby with a knee injury but has recovered from the injury and is ready to return.

While Barrett will start the match at first-five he says that he is not ready to resume with the kicking duties.

“I feel comfortable to do my job as a 10 but not really the goal-kicking,” Barrett told the NZ Herald.

“Because of the nature of the injury, it’s an MCL, it’s that side-on lateral movement (that is a problem). So that’s the last thing (required) to say that I’m 100 per cent to be a goal-kicking first-five.”

Even though Barrett is not happy with taking the kicking duties he says that he is confident that he could play for the full 80 minutes of the match if needed.

“I wouldn’t be out there if I didn’t feel up to it,” he said.

Part of Barrett’s rehabilitation included riding a stationary bike which helped him to regain strength in his knee.

“It was new territory for me. I’d never really done an injury that had kept me out this long so I just kept trusting the physio team that we have here and worked really hard. So I was confident that I could get back.”

While Barrett was out injured Otere Black played at 10 and took care of the kicing duties but this week one of halfback TJ Perenara or fullback James Marshall will most likely do the goal-kicking. Black will now join the NZ U20’s in Italy.

“He’s (Black) played really well for us and that under-20 tournament is a huge deal for a young player coming through,” Barrett said.

While Hurricanes coach Chris Boyd has got one All Black back in Barrett he has chosen to rest second-five Ma’a Nonu this week which creates an opportunity for Rey Lee-Lo to partner Conrad Smith in the midfield.

Boyd has also chosen to start All Blacks Victor Vito and Bench Franks for this match.

Boyd has not yet named his replacements for Friday’s match as he was still juggling the fitness of players like outside back Cory Jane who has a hamstring problem so they have taken an extended squad to Napier.

The Hurricanes could book home advantage for the playoffs with a victory, or two losing bonus points.

Hurricanes

James Marshall, Nehe Milner-Skudder, Conrad Smith (c), Rey Lee-Lo, Julian Savea, Beauden Barrett, TJ Perenara, Victor Vito, Ardie Savea, Blade Thomson, James Broadhurst, Jeremy Thrush, Ben Franks, Dane Coles, Reggie Goodes.

Replacements: TBA.

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