NZ Herald

Beauden Barrett has revealed he expects a fair amount of sledging when he makes his Blues debut against his former Hurricanes teammates in the first round of Super Rugby Aotearoa.

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New Zealand Rugby confirmed earlier this week that the new domestic form of Super Rugby will start on June 13 following the country’s return to alert level 2 this week.

The lockdown had further postponed Barrett’s highly-anticipated debut in the Blues jersey after he signed with the franchise and moved to Auckland from Wellington late last year.

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But with the draw seeing a clash against the Hurricanes first up, both fans and Barrett himself are counting down the days.

The All Blacks first-five did admit, however, he expects some banter on the field from his former teammates.

“I can see TJ [Perenara] feeding the ball into the scrum and giving me a cheeky smile now and [Dan Coles], if he gets hold of me in a ruck, I’ll be a bit worried,” Barrett told The Country.

“It wouldn’t be the same if there was no feeling or extra niggle in that game so I’m looking forward to it.

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“I was eyeing up returning early-mid April against the Canes at Eden Park so thankfully the draw presents another opportunity straight off the bat, playing my old mates.”

When asked if he expected to be in the number 10 jersey, Barrett said he would be pleased just be named in the team.

“I can’t take it for granted that I’ll be playing,” he said. “It’s my first time in the Blues and I’m still getting up to speed on how the team runs and operates. Still a bit of water to go under the bridge but fingers crossed.

“Hopefully I’ll be in the mix.”

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Super Rugby Aotearoa will see the five Super Rugby clubs playing each other home and away over 10 weeks, with two matches every weekend at 5.05pm on Saturdays and 3.05pm on Sundays.

Matches will be played in closed stadiums until the Government advises an approach to managing mass gatherings in controlled venues that will allow fans to return.

Super Rugby Aotearoa draw

June 13 – Highlanders v Chiefs
June 14 – Blues v Hurricanes

June 20 – Chiefs v Blues
June 21 – Hurricanes v Crusaders

June 27 – Blues v Highlanders
June 28 – Crusaders v Chiefs

July 4 – Highlanders v Crusaders
July 5 – Chiefs v Hurricanes

July 11 – Crusaders v Blues
July 12 – Hurricanes v Highlanders

July 18 – Hurricanes v Blues
July 19 – Chiefs v Highlanders

July 25 – Crusaders v Hurricanes
July 26 – Blues v Chiefs

August 1 – Chiefs v Crusaders
August 2 – Highlanders v Blues

August 8 – Hurricanes v Chiefs
August 9 – Crusaders v Highlanders

August 15 – Highlanders v Hurricanes
August 16 – Blues v Crusaders

This article first appeared on nzherald.co.nz and is republished with permission.

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