The All Blacks and former Hurricanes first five-eighth has been named to start at fullback for Sunday’s mammoth Investec Super Rugby Aotearoa clash at a sold-out Eden Park.
Hurricanes head coach Jason Holland said his side have to be smart around how they approach Barrett.
“We have to make sure it doesn’t alter anything we do around our mindset. So, we want to do what the Hurricanes do, be really physical and smart about our rugby. There are little things we know about how Beaudy plays obviously and we have seen him play really well for the Hurricanes and we have seen him play really poorly for the Hurricanes at times.
“We have an idea around how we can put him under pressure.”
The Hurricanes have opted for a 6-2 split of forwards and backs on their bench for the Blues blockbuster, with Ardie Savea finally making his long-awaited return from injury.
Alongside fellow All Blacks teammate Vaea Fifita, Savea is expected to get a good 20 to 30 minutes off the pine. Holland said he’s getting really close to being at full fitness, having recovered from knee surgery but it was always their plan to ease him back in. Savea hasn’t played a game of rugby since the Rugby World Cup semi-final against England in October.
Holland said they are flexible about where Savea will play off the bench and the decision to have just two backs as cover has provided some good chats between Hurricanes forwards and backs coaches.
“We think it’s going to be really important in this game that we are able to bring in some real power at the 50 minute mark. Obviously Ardie is part of that, then there is Vaea and Izzy [Isaia Walker-Leawere]. We are lucky that we have some boys in our backline who can do a couple of jobs.
“Boys in the midfield who can play on the wing and we have TJ who can do whatever he wants position wise. We are pretty comfortable there.”
Holland is intrigued to see how much quicker the game becomes with the slight adjustments in the way that the referees will enforce around the breakdown and he thinks the bench will become even more crucial.
“It’s the first game. It’s like the first game after the pre-season, so if the game is quicker, some boys are going to be blowing. It’s going to be important we use the bench really well.”
Close to 40,000 fans are expected to pack out Eden Park for the encounter on Sunday at 3:35pm. Holland and the Hurricanes are pumped about the occasion.
“It’s awesome for the game that so many people are keen to get back involved in it. The day is going to be a great day, so the more the merrier up there, that would be great.”
All games will be live and exclusive on Sky Sport 1.