Super Rugby: Hurricanes leave out Beauden Barrett, Ardie Savea for Crusaders clash
Source: https://www.stuff.co.nz/news/110756782/-

2019-02-21 03:06:43

No matter what Beauden Barrett said, he was never going to play against the Crusaders this weekend.

Despite only returning from his honeymoon on Monday, the All Blacks first-five indicated on Tuesday he was keen to play for the Hurricanes in Christchurch on Saturday.

But when the team was announced on Thursday, he was omitted from the 23 as expected, as was Ardie Savea in a slightly more unexpected move.

Fellow All Blacks TJ Perenara and Ngani Laumape have been relegated to the bench, while Dane Coles and Jordie Barrett both start at hooker and fullback respectively.

The omissions and benchings are all part of the All Blacks' return to play protocols, as advised to the Super Rugby teams by New Zealand Rugby. Those included the All Blacks not playing more than 60 minutes in week one, or 180 minutes total across the first three games.

Perenara, Laumape and Savea all exceeded those by playing 80 minutes in their win over the Waratahs last Saturday, meaning the first two have been banished to the bench, while Savea reported a minor knee tweak, so has been left out entirely.

It's a minefield for Hurricanes coach John Plumtree to navigate.

He may well have planned to withdraw Perenara in the second half last weekend, but that went out the window when James Marshall's injury saw him make the on-the-fly decision to shift Perenara to first-five and bring Finlay Christie on.

"It's not easy, but it's something that is important," Plumtree said of the protocols.

"We see it as important and that's why we're buying in with New Zealand [Rugby]."

Just why Beauden Barrett expressed his desire to play this weekend when knowing full well he was extremely unlikely to do so remains unknown.

Plumtree said restriction of minutes had been difficult for his players to accept given their eagerness to represent the Hurricanes.

"Some players don't see it as important as the coaches and New Zealand [Rugby] do, but we get on with it and we adjust and we work towards making sure the players' welfare is the best it can be.

"They all want to play in the jersey, they all want to play every week, but some players have longer seasons than others and our All Blacks are those guys, so we've got to be smart about it.

"A lot of that type of chat is based around how they're feeling. I don't want a player out there unless he's feeling his best, I want a guy who's busting to be there. Certainly in that regard our All Blacks always want to play all the time, but let's face it, they do have tough, long seasons."

As for Barrett specifically, Plumtree said it was not yet known if he would feature against the Brumbies in Palmerston North in week three.

"I'll have another conversation with Beaudy, he's going through his return to play stuff around contact and is learning our game because we've made some changes to how we play.

"We'll see where he's at on Monday, but it will be based around how he's feeling, what he wants to do and we'll go from there."

The call on Savea for this weekend, which sees Du'Plessis Kirifi start at seven and Sam Henwood on the bench, was made by Plumtree in the same context mentioned above.

"Ardie had a full game last week and then reported a little MCL [knee] strain after the game, so it was easy for me to say 'well I've got two good other sevens that can do a job for us'. Ardie has a long season ahead so I just gave him a week off.

"These are the decisions that are tough for me and the team because Ardie is one of our star players, but it's an opportunity now for Du'Plessis and Sam to show me what they're capable of against the great loose forwards the Crusaders have got."

The Hurricanes appear a bit short-handed in terms of the versatility of their backs on the bench, but Plumtree wasn't overly worried, noting Wes Goosen could cover fullback and midfield. Vince Aso can also cover the wing.

Vaea Fifita will continue his return to fitness by playing for the Hurricanes' development side in the curtain-raiser on Saturday.

AT A GLANCE

Hurricanes team to play Crusaders: Jordie Barrett, Wes Goosen, Matt Proctor, Vince Aso, Ben Lam, Fletcher Smith, Finlay Christie, Gareth Evans, Du'Plessis Kirifi, Reed Prinsep, Liam Mitchell, James Blackwell, Jeff Toomaga-Allen, Dane Coles (captain), Chris Eves. Reserves: Ricky Riccitelli, Xavier Numia, Ben May, Isaia Walker-Leawere, Sam Henwood, TJ Perenara, Jackson Garden-Bachop, Ngani Laumape.

Crusaders: David Havili, Manasa Mataele, Jack Goodhue, Ryan Crotty, George Bridge, Richie Mo'unga, Bryn Hall, Whetukamokamo Douglas, Matt Todd (captain), Jordan Taufua, Quinten Strange, Scott Barrett, Owen Franks, Andrew Makalio, Joe Moody. Reserves: Ben Funnell, Harry Allan, Michael Alaalatoa, Luke Romano, Tom Sanders, Mitchell Drummond, Mitchell Hunt, Braydon Ennor.

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