Rugby: Hurricanes set for follow-up act

By Daniel Richardson

TJ Perenara of the Hurricanes is tackled by Michael Fitzgerald of the Chiefs during the round 15 Super Rugby match between the Hurricanes and the Chiefs. Photo / Getty Images.
TJ Perenara of the Hurricanes is tackled by Michael Fitzgerald of the Chiefs during the round 15 Super Rugby match between the Hurricanes and the Chiefs. Photo / Getty Images.

It is hard to follow up putting 45 points on the defending Super Rugby champions.

After the Hurricanes produced a methodical 45-8 destruction of the Chiefs at Westpac Stadium on Saturday night, they quickly turned their focus to meeting the Blues at Eden park this Saturday.

Beauden Barrett was among a collection of Hurricanes who have been involved in the All Blacks' wider training group camp in Wellington, which finished today.

There's been plenty of talk surrounding his form this season, with either him or Aaron Cruden likely to be chosen to wear the No 10 jersey when the All Blacks host England in a three-test series next month with Dan Carter still on sabbatical

But rather than speculate on his own exploits, Barrett was more interested in talking about how the Hurricanes can remain on track as they look to keep hold of their place in the top six of the Super Rugby standings.

"That's our challenge. Last week we came off a loss against the Highlanders and backed up really well against the Chiefs," Barrett said.

"In the past we have struggled a bit after a really good win, keeping our feet on the ground."

Barrett and Co will rejoin the Hurricanes today and turn up their preparation for a Blues game, which holds great significance for their season given they probably need to win their final three outings.

Although he is aware of how well he is playing, Barrett, who has never started a test at first-five for the All Blacks in his previous 16 appearances, did his best to play down the excitement.

"I'm not one to read too much. You learn to take the good with the bad and just keep worrying about preparing each week for each game and I'm just worried about how the team's doing."

Barrett turned 23 today but said there were no plans for a big celebration and he just hoped to avoid any practical jokes from his teammates.

"I might have a quiet dinner; pretty low-key. I don't really like making a big deal over it but my girlfriend does."

All Blacks coach Steve Hansen said he was pleased with this week's three-day camp, which allowed his wider squad the opportunity to focus on recovery from the weekend's fixtures and look at their gameplan for next month.

The fitness of Crusaders No 8 Kieran Read has been an ongoing concern during the past month but Hansen said the 28-year-old was healthy.

"He's fine. He's just got over his head knock well and trained and now it's just getting his sinuses right, so he's training well and feeling good."

Hansen will name his 31-strong squad to meet England on Sunday and although four hookers were part of the wider training squad that number could be cut to two this weekend.

Keven Mealamu and Dane Coles are certainties but Hansen will soon decide whether Liam Coltman and Nathan Harris are up to international standard as three hookers may be selected.

Hansen indicated they would likely carry all three halfbacks, Aaron Smith Tawera Kerr-Barlow and TJ Perenara from their wider training group.

- APNZ

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