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Rugby: Barrett brothers key to battle BrumbiesSave
By Campbell Burnes
The Barrett brothers are in the news again.
Jordie for his Hurricanes' form, his withdrawal from the NZ Under 20s to Australia and his chances of an All Blacks' call-up in June; Beauden for his supposed weaknesses in goalkicking and defence. In fairness, those aspects of his game were highlighted out of the UK, where the Lions will be keen to identify any chink in the armour of the world's best player. Did we mention he ran for 204m against the Blues? Or that he conceded his third yellow card for what was deemed a deliberate knock-down?
What is apparent is that Jordie will continue to kick goals tomorrow night against the Brumbies in Napier, and Beauden will attempt to school his opposite, former Waikato and Southland No 10 Wharenui Hawera, as the Hurricanes seek to exorcise their Brumbies' demons of 2016. Both Barretts will be as phlegmatic as ever, with events of the last week washing over them.
Hurricanes coach Chris Boyd gave more information on the decision for Barrett junior to stay with the Hurricanes, at least for the short-term.
"That's been a three-way communication between Potsy (U20s coach Craig Philpott) NZ Rugby and us. It's been an ongoing discussion. For now, they have decided to go to the Oceania series without him. And for the world championship, we will see how things unfold," Boyd says, adding that he prefers to accede to the wish of the individual player in such a case.
"Would I be surprised if he was in the (All Blacks) squad? Probably not. Do I think they'll pick him? I've got no idea."
Lock Michael Fatialofa was seeing a specialist today, but the fear was that he had dislocated his knee against the Blues, so Vaea Fifita steps in. Blade Thomson makes a welcome return at No 8 from a shoulder injury. The industrious and reliable Brad Shields takes the captain's armband for the first time.
So to the Brumbies.
"Really big set-piece side, good scrum, good lineout, good drive. They are really good on their strike. They have got some good individuals who are playing well. They'll be grumpy about last week so we'll be expecting nothing less than a royal battle. Historically, they have had the wood on the Hurricanes for a number of years," Boyd says.
The Brumbies, indeed, may fancy their chances of attacking the Hurricanes in the forwards, with the home side missing their chief lineout winner and top hooker. They will be seeking another staunch defensive effort. But they were insipid in their 19-17 defeat by the cellar-dwelling Melbourne Rebels, so it will need some lift in performance to trouble the Hurricanes, whose point differential now reads 182, while they have run in no less than 48 tries in seven games.
Hurricanes: Jordie Barrett, Cory Jane, Vince Aso, Ngani Laumape, Julian Savea, Beauden Barrett, Te Toiroa Tahuriorangi, Blade Thomson, Ardie Savea, Brad Shields (c), Vaea Fifita, Mark Abbott, Jeffery Toomaga-Allen, Ricky Riccitelli, Ben May
Reserves: Leni Apisai, Chris Eves, Mike Kainga, James Blackwell, Callum Gibbins, TJ Perenara, Otere Black, Ben Lam
Brumbies: Aidan Toua, Henry Speight, Tevita Kuridrani, Andrew Smith, James Dargaville, Wharenui Hawera, Joe Powell, Jarrad Butler, Chris Alcock, Scott Fardy, Sam Carter (c), Rory Arnold, Allan Alaalatoa, Josh Mann-Rea, Scott Sio
Reserves: Robbie Abel, Nic Mayhew, Ben Alexander, Blake Enever, Lolo Fakaosilea, De Wet Roos, Jordan Jackson-Hope, Nigel Ah Wong
- Rugby World Cup