- By Kevin McCarthy
Changes were to be expected for the Hurricanes for this Sunday’s match against the Chiefs, but I didn’t expect we’d see Jordie Barrett suddenly popping up at second-five.
I haven’t seen any rationale for that, but there must be one.
The Canes haven’t played a settled backline for a very long time – with Julian Savea and Bailyn Sullivan and of course Peter Umaga-Jensen being tried in midfield. The one constant has been Jordie at fullback, because well why would you have it any other way.
Is this a case of a horses for courses? Or is Ruben Love not seen as a first-five, but likely to shine more for 15. Or is it an attempt to manage the squad across a decidedly crunchy three-games in 9 days patch.
Well, we’ll find out I guess. The Canes really have to win this Sunday and against a potent looking Chiefs side that seems to know how to get under the skins of the Crusaders.
Said Crusaders are here a week later, and then the rematch with Moana Pasifika.
Let’s see as many of you as possible out there this weekend – but stay safe!
Inspired by Team New Zealand, I’ve been developing a plan to actually base the All Blacks permanently overseas, preferably somewhere rich but not murderously so (looking at you, Jeddah).
The genesis for this idea was a time I spent in 2007 in Valencia, Spain, where the Am Cup was being held that year. Very nice it was too. My backpackers was in the city centre, and the sea wasn’t- so every day I would walk about 5 kilometres to the regatta village. It included walking along a former riverbed that they basically dried up deliberately, because it flooded so much.
That wasn’t the showstopper one morning though. It was the site at an intersection where there was one of those giant billboards. This was for Iveco, at that time an All Blacks sponsor. The All Black on the billboard was lock Jason Eaton, with his mullet in full flow. Injury that year meant he wasn’t going to the actual world cup a few months hence.
To this day, I am not sure why he was the subject – notwithstanding his stalwart career, including of course for the Hurricanes. Perhaps it was the mullet. Or that he was voted International Rugby Newcomer of the Year in 2006 (I bet you’d forgotten that). Perhaps he had a huge Spanish fan base. I will never know.
But I think it was symbolic of how the All Blacks are a global brand. So why not put them up for bidding to the highest bidder every four years ago. They’ll literally be a band of men who will play for you, wherever you are.
Ah the intrigues at Rugby HQ. Wayne Smith is going to be parachuted into helping the Black Ferns try to turn around their prospects at the fast approaching Women’s Rugby World Cup. About the same time that coach Glenn Moore hears the outcome of inquiries into his wider handling of the squad on their disastrous Northern tour last year.
In what capacity Smith is returning is not yet clear.
But as one writer put it, if The Professor can turn it around, he will just become even more of a legend.
Hawkes’ Bay prop – Pouri Rakete-Stones returns to the starting line-up for Sunday’s match, with hooker Asafo Aumua and Wainuiomata product, Tyrel Lomax lining up alongside him.
Lock James Blackwell returns for his 52nd appearance for the Hurricanes, partnering Scott Scrafton who makes his second appearance of the season in the five jersey.
There’s a familiar look to the loose trio with Reed Prinsep, Du’Plessis Kirifi and Captain Ardie Savea lining up in six, seven and eight.
Centurion, TJ Perenara, retains the number nine jersey and partners fellow Norths junior, Jackson Garden-Bachop in the halves.
Jordie Barrett shifts into the midfield, starting at second-five, with Billy proctor beside him in the 13 jersey.
Barrett’s shift to the 12 jersey opens up an opportunity for Ruben Love to start at 15 – a position he’s familiar with and made his name at provincial level in. Wes Goosen and Julian Savea round out the run on side.
On the bench – James O’Reilly, Xavier Numia and Tevita Mafileo will add power at set piece. Ex Waimea College student Caleb Delany suits up for his third outing and the athletic Devan Flanders will be looking to make an impact too.
Jamie Booth takes the 21 jersey, and former Chiefs Bailyn Sullivan will be looking to spoil the night for his former teammates, as will Hamilton-born outside Josh Moorby – who rounds out the 23.
Hurricanes team to face the Chiefs:
1 Pouri Rakete-Stones
2 Asafo Aumua
3 Tyrel Lomax
4 James Blackwell
5 Scott Scrafton
6 Reed Prinsep
7 Du’Plessis Kirifi
8 Ardie Savea (c)
9 TJ Perenara
10 Jackson Garden-Bachop
11 Wes Goosen
12 Jordie Barrett
13 Billy Proctor
14 Julian Savea
15 Ruben Love
16 James O’Reilly
17 Xavier Numia
18 Tevita Mafileo
19 Caleb Delany
20 Devan Flanders
21 Jamie Booth
22 Bailyn Sullivan
23 Josh Moorby