The ongoing alteration between positions highlights the 22-year-old’s versatility in the backline, after having already played at fullback, wing and second-five for the Hurricanes this season.
Barrett’s move back from wing to the midfield comes after a knock to first-string centre Matt Proctor was enough to demote him to the bench, while fellow midfielder Vince Aso’s pectoral injury has been confirmed as season-ending, with his only glimmer of hope of returning to Super Rugby this year lying with a deep play-offs run by the Hurricanes in July.
Should Barrett make a noteworthy performance in the No. 13 jersey, he could add another dimension to the All Blacks’ midfield battle set to ensue ahead of the World Cup.
Only four midfield slots will be available for the tournament in Japan, and there are already five genuine contenders for a spot via Sonny Bill Williams, Ryan Crotty, Jack Goodhue, Anton Lienert-Brown and Barrett’s Hurricanes teammate and midfield partner Ngani Laumape.
After proving his worth with an impressive outing at second-five against the Stormers in Wellington a fortnight ago, Barrett could add himself to that list of genuine midfield options as someone who can cover both second-five and centre, as well as wing and fullback.
Other points of interest in the side includes the addition of Bay of Plenty and Manu Samoa lock Kane Le’aupepe, who earns a start after making his Super Rugby debut from off the bench in his side’s 32-8 defeat to the Crusaders last week.
“While we were disappointed with the result against the Crusaders the coaching group still found some positives in how we played, especially the way we performed up front,” head coach John Plumtree said.
“The challenge for us now is to get the rest of our game to where it needs to be against what will be a really motivated Highlanders team who will be desperate to play well in front of their home fans.”
Hurricanes team to face the Highlanders: 1. Fraser Armstrong, 2. Ricky Riccitelli, 3. Ben May, 4. James Blackwell, 5. Kane Le’aupepe, 6. Vaea Fifita, 7. Ardie Savea, 8. Reed Prinsep, 9. TJ Perenara, 10. Beauden Barrett, 11. Ben Lam, 12. Ngani Laumape, 13. Jordie Barrett, 14. Wes Goosen, 15. Chase Tiatia
Watch – Highlanders head coach Aaron Mauger speaks ahead of Hurricanes clash:
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