A potential battle between All Black first five-eighths Beauden Barrett and Richie Mo’unga has been put on hold until later in the season.
The Hurricanes’ No 10 jersey will remain in good hands despite Barrett’s absence and an injury to James Marshall. 30-year-old Marshall lasted just five minutes in his Hurricanes return after suffering a dislocated shoulder during the side’s 20-19 season opening victory over the Waratahs.
Hurricanes head coach John Plumtree backed the side’s depth at first-five following the match.
“We’ve obviously got Jackson Garden-Bachop to fall back on and Beauden coming back, eventually, so it’s not all doom and gloom,” Plumtree told media.
Plumtree said Barrett would return to the squad next week after spending time on his honeymoon.
“Beauden will be back in next week, but we won’t be rushing him back. He’s got a process around his contact, so we’ll make a call on that when we get home.”
Fletcher Smith – the starter for the season opener – shapes as the man likely to don the No 10 jersey against the Crusaders, with Garden-Bachop on the bench as cover.
Smith was a mixed bag on debut for the club after shifting from the Highlanders.
“He had some good parts and some not so good parts,” Plumtree said of Smith’s Hurricanes debut.
“It was a big game for him, his first start in a new jersey, and he’ll just get better and better as his confidence grows.
“We didn’t get a lot of good gain line for him, but I thought he defended pretty well. It’s just the start for him.”
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