Clayton McMillan won’t have been surprised to see Orbyn Leger named at No 10 for the Hurricanes on Thursday afternoon.
There was some speculation that fullback Jordie Barrett could be asked to step into the pivot role with Jackson Garden-Bachop nursing an injury, but instead former Chiefs and Blues utility Leger has been handed the reins in what will be just his 11th Super Rugby appearance.
While McMillan wasn’t a fulltime coach with the Chiefs last year, he spent plenty of days in camp with the side and has a solid understanding of what a man of Leger’s abilities will bring to the Hurricanes.
“Orbyn’s a talented rugby player,” McMillan said. “He’s a Super Rugby player who can cover lots of different positions. He’s probably just been a victim, historically, of being able to cover lots of different positions.
“When you’re initially selecting your squad, you’re going for guys who are specialists and then a few other guys who can cover that role and in our team, we’ve got three or four of them who can play multiple positions so he missed out with us but I’m really happy for him because he’s a good man, he’s been a really good servant here at the Chiefs and I hope he goes well – just not really well.”
Ironically, Leger’s promotions into the Blues in 2018 and the Chiefs in 2019 both came on the back of a slew of injuries to fulltime squad members. While the 24-year-old was primarily used in the Blues midfield, his first appearance for the Chiefs came in the opening match of 2019 when Leger was named to play at first five.
History is now repeating itself in Wellington, with Leger earning selection on the back of injuries to Garden-Bachop and Simon Hickey.
“It wouldn’t be fair on him if we actually put him into first five, last year he was the best fullback running around and he’s done some good stuff for us already this year,” Jane said.
“To put him there just because we feel like we need to would probably be unfair on him, I like him better at fullback and we’ll just have to make do with the options we’ve got.”
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Unsurprisingly, Barrett has been named at fullback while head coach Jason Holland has full trust in new pivot Leger.
“Orbs has been training with us at 10 and has had a good week with the boys and is dominating things, so we’re looking forward to seeing him go,” he said.
“He’s an attacking-minded player, which we like, he’s left-footed and a really good kicker of the ball and will be a good threat at the line. He’ll get into our systems nicely and add a good dimension to our attack.”
Saturday’s match kicks off at 7:05pm NZT from Sky Stadium in Wellington and will be broadcast live on RugbyPass for subscribers with a Super Rugby Aotearoa season pass.
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