3 Jun 2015

Barrett back, Nonu out, but question mark over Jane

5:21 pm on 3 June 2015

The All Blacks first-five Beauden Barrett will return to the Hurricanes' starting team for Friday night's crucial Super Rugby clash with the Highlanders in Napier.

Barrett's return is one of three changes to the Hurricanes side.

Hurricanes first five Beauden Barrett gets treatment for his injured knee.

Hurricanes first five Beauden Barrett gets treatment for his injured knee. Photo: Photosport

Barrett says his knee is feeling good and he's excited to be back after a month off, however he won't be doing the goal-kicking on Friday night.

He suffered a medial cruciate ligament injury in his right knee playing against the Crusaders a month ago.

Barrett says the goal kicking hasn't been a part of his rehab, so that part of his game is yet to return.

James Marshall and TJ Perenara are the goal kicking options.

Brad Shields has had a heavy workload and is likely to be named in the reserves to freshen up, so Blade Thomson moves to flanker and Victor Vito to No. 8.

Coach Chris Boyd won't confirm his bench until this evening after training.

Should Shields come on as a replacement at McLean Park, it will mark his 50th match for the Hurricanes.

In the final change, midfielder Rey Lee-Lo comes into the starting line-up, with 94-test second-five Ma'a Nonu taking his necessary All Blacks rest period this week.

Meanwhile All Black wing Cory Jane is under an injury cloud and may be ruled out of the clash.

If he does play it will be from the bench.

The match has major ramifications for both sides and both will be desperate to win.

With two rounds reminaing the Highlanders are the only team that can overtake the competition leading Hurricanes into top spot.

The team which finishes top of the table at the end of the regular season earns direct entry into the second week of the playoffs and home advantage throughout the finals.

Boyd said due to the early departure for Napier this morning, the team would be taking additional players to Hawke's Bay, and will finalise their bench this evening following the team's open training session at Tremain Field.

"The additional numbers are based on the fact we have a number of commercial and community obligations we'd like to participate in up in Napier."

"We also have a couple of players under injury clouds, in Willis (Halaholo) and Cory (Jane), so we'll assess them after training tomorrow and make a final decision on the make-up of our bench."

The starting team to face the Highlanders at McLean Park this Friday, kick-off 7.35pm, is;

1. Reggie Goodes

2. Dane Coles

3. Ben Franks

4. Jeremy Thrush

5. James Broadhurst

6. Blade Thomson

7. Ardie Savea

8. Victor Vito

9. TJ Perenara

10. Beauden Barrett

11. Julian Savea

12. Rey Lee-Lo

13. Conrad Smith

14. Nehe Milner-Skudder

15. James Marshall

The following players will also travel to Napier, with coaching staff to determine the reserves bench this evening;

Callum Gibbins, Cory Jane, Willis Halaholo, Jeffery Toomaga-Allen, Chris Eves, Brayden Mitchell, Mark Abbott, Ma'a Nonu, Brad Shields, Chris Smylie.

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