Hurricanes coach denies any All Black interference

Campbell Burnes, NZ Herald,
Publish Date
Friday, 19 May 2017, 6:55AM
Beauden Barrett of the Hurricanes puts in a kick. Photo / Photosport
Beauden Barrett of the Hurricanes puts in a kick. Photo / Photosport

The Hurricanes have dismissed suggestions Beauden Barrett's shift to fullback against the Cheetahs tomorrow night is due to pressure from either the All Blacks or Blues.

There are four changes in all, Otere Black slotting into the No10 jersey, and possibly taking the goal kicks, while Barrett starts his first Hurricanes game at the back in more than four years.

Sam Lousi makes his first start at lock in place of Mark Abbott, while Wes Goosen replaces Cory Jane on the wing, and Ben May is back at loosehead prop.

Hurricanes coach Chris Boyd dismissed claims that Barrett's move was due to a quiet word from All Blacks selectors wanting to see Barrett at No15, and denied the elevation of Black was a response to the Blues' courting of the Manawatu pivot.

"Some of those changes are around minutes and volume. The change with Otere was to give him some minutes and to keep ticking over, while the decision to rest Jordie [Barrett] was to give him less minutes - he could do without starting this week," says Boyd.

Positional shuffling aside, the Hurricanes are putting the onus on the forwards to deliver at set-piece time.

While Boyd said earlier in the week the set-piece stats against the Crusaders last weekend were not as dire as first thought - a surprising declaration - the Hurricanes have been drilling their lineouts, both attacking and defensive, with forwards coach Richard Watt.

The Cheetahs scored several tries off lineout drives in their 50-32 loss to the Blues, and appeal as a team willing to chance their arm, especially as they could well be exiting the competition as one of the two South African franchises in proposed cuts.

The Hurricanes are also not averse to innovation, and even threw Jordie Barrett up at No2 on a 5m lineout against the Crusaders.

He's tall and not too hefty to lift, so that idea was not as outlandish as it may have seemed.

But they would settle for a steady supply of ball as they seek a bonus point victory against the Cheetahs. More importantly, they seek a slicker performance after several weeks of inconsistency.

"We've put a fair bit of time into the bits that failed last weekend, and there were a few. The Cheetahs are a very, very good attacking side," Boyd said. "They can score tries and have averaged 31 points against New Zealand sides. Of all the South African sides, they play closest to the Kiwi sides."

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