Jordie Barrett will be eased into his first Super Rugby pre-season playing duties tomorrow.
That will mean coming off the bench to slot into fullback for the Hurricanes against the Blues at Auckland's Alexandra Park rather than in midfield, where his long-term future may lie, and he impressed in 2016 for the New Zealand Under 20s and Canterbury.
That is the word from Hurricanes coach Chris Boyd, who has named a starting XV and 17 reserves for the match.
"He's been great. He's just a young guy, so he's getting used to the loads that are going through him and being in a fulltime professional environment. It would be remiss of us to put too much pressure on him and expect too much too early. He will get some game time this week and will go to Duco (Brisbane) next week to have a run-around in the 10s," says Boyd.
"We've got certainly a long-term approach with Jordie, and he's not going to play every minute of every game this year, that's for sure."
As for his long-term position?
"I'm not sure in the end, but I think right now, he's got some physical growing to do to play in that combative position in the midfield, so I think there is a good chance that we'll float him into that fullback position rather than midfield. He himself probably prefers the midfield," Boyd says.
Barrett himself is keen to slot into wherever he can contribute, but feels there will be some more freedom for him to initially operate at the back. As expected, he learned a heap as apprentice on the All Blacks tour.
"It went blimmin' quick. It was a blur and I didn't have time to reflect until a few weeks ago. I went over there knowing I wasn't going to see the field, so it was about learning from the best. Not having the pressure of playing made training easier," says Barrett.
There is a clutch of promising young talent in this Hurricanes' 32, including schoolboy and age grade reps from 2014-16 such as No 8 Hugh Renton, returning from long-term injury, hooker Asafo Aumua, centre Jonah Lowe, wing Malo Tuitama, lock Isaia Walker-Leawere, halfback Kemara Hauiti-Parapara and first five Tiaan Falcon, son of former Magpies and Hurricanes No 8 Gordon Falcon. Nehe Milner-Skudder will test his shoulder from fullback.
After midweek confirmation that James Broadhurst is no closer to a return, the Hurricanes' locking stocks took another hit with the news that Hawke's Bay's Geoff Cridge, who had a knee operation after the Magpies' Mitre 10 Cup campaign, will be gone for the season.
Boyd is seeking some precision and accuracy from this practice match, which kicks off at 2:30pm.
Hurricanes squad to play the Blues: Nehe Milner-Skudder, Malo Tuitama, Jonah Lowe, Vince Aso, Wes Goosen, Tiaan Falcon, Kemara Hauiti-Parapara, Hugh Renton, Callum Gibbins, James Blackwell, Isaia Walker-Leawere, Michael Fatialofa, Mike Kainga, Asafo Aumua, Reg Goodes
Reserves: Loni Uhila, Joe Apikotoa, Chris Eves, Jeffery Toomaga-Allen, Ricky Riccitelli, Mark Abbott, Vaea Fifita, Brad Shields, Toa Halafihi, Antonio Kirikiri, Reed Prinsep, Te Toiroa Tahuriorangi, Otere Black, Mason Emerson, Ngani Laumape, Matt Proctor, Jordie Barrett