Super Rugby Pacific: Jordie Barrett ‘the best midfielder’ not a back for Hurricanes title
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Jordie Barrett will wear the Hurricanes’ No.12 shirt against the Brumbies despite Ian Foster considering him the All Blacks fullback.
All Blacks manager Ian Foster might prefer Jordie Barrett at full-back, but the Hurricanes look set to use him in midfield for the rest of their Super Rugby Pacific campaign.
Hurricanes coach Jason Holland named Barrett in the No. 12 jumper on Wednesday for Saturday’s quarter-final against the Brumbies, saying it was “the best for the Hurricanes right now.”
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Barrett was one of the All Blacks’ best last season as a full-back but sparked a hot topic in April when he said the second five-eights was “the most comfortable position” for him.
Foster doesn’t see Barrett’s immediate future in midfield, saying in a podcast interview this week that the 25-year-old was just a “long-term option” there.
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“We watched with interest as he played 12. It didn’t thrill me that he got in there,” Foster said. “He’s played 12 times before and he likes it. If it stimulates him, that’s great, and I’m interested to see if it’s an option for us in the long term, because it could be.
Holland, however, has a lot of faith in Barrett’s midfield skills at the moment.
That’s why he reinserted him in the No 12 role – where he’s played most of the season – as one of five key changes to the starting side which lost 27-22 to Western Strength last weekend.
“Obviously we see the best thing around Jordie’s skills for this team around playing at 12,” Holland said.
“I’m quite excited about what he offers as a midfielder.”
Holland said he could “100% see” why Foster “likes him at 15.”
“He’s a quality footballer wherever we play him. Whatever each team needs, the teams will go with it. For our team, Jordie at 12, for me that’s an important part of this playoff run. playoffs and how we can win games.
Barrett missed the Perth game through illness, but his return to midfield was a clear case of horse-for-court against the Brumbies. At 1.96m and nearly 100kg, Barrett’s physique will be an asset against explosive ACT duo Irae Simone and Len Ikitau.
Holland noted that the Brumbies also have “lots of loosies floating in these channels, as well as to haul.”
“Jordie likes to show up and tackle, but he’s also good on the carry and wins us off the line.”
But he said there wasn’t much difference between midfielders in Super Rugby and this week’s selections were “more about us and what we need”.
That means Barrett at 12, inside center Billy Proctor and providing another playmaker option for young first five eighth Aidan Morgan. Impressive newcomer Josh Moorby remains at the back.
The return of Barrett and Captain Ardie Savea will strengthen the Hurricanes. Blake Gibson is also back with partner Savea and Du’Plessis Kirifi in the back row.
Powerful lock Isaia Walker-Leawere also returns after illness to pack up with James Blackwell.
“It’s nice to have Izzy back after being sick,” Holland said. “He’s a big man, and we’re going to need the big strong men [against the Brumbies] in the set piece for the forwards, so now that he’s back at 100%, we’re hoping for big things from him on Saturday. ”
Half-back TJ Perenara will become the first Hurricane to score 150 Super Rugby games and Julian Savea replaces Wes Goosen on the right wing.
Hurricanes: Josh Moorby, Julian Savea, Billy Proctor, Jordie Barrett, Salesi Rayasi, Aidan Morgan, TJ Perenara, Ardie Savea (captain), Du’Plessis Kirifi, Blake Gibson, Isaia Walker-Leawere, James Blackwell, Owen Franks, Dane Coles, Tevita Mafileo. Reservations: Asafo Aumua, Pouri Rakete-Stones, Tyrel Lomax, Caleb Delany, Brayden Iose, Jamie Booth, Ruben Love, Wes Goosen.