Rugby: Smith and Perenara cleared to play

By Daniel Richardson

Hurricanes backs Conrad Smith and TJ Perenara (pictured) have both come through training today and will take their place in the Hurricanes starting XV on Saturday. Photo / Getty Images.
Hurricanes backs Conrad Smith and TJ Perenara (pictured) have both come through training today and will take their place in the Hurricanes starting XV on Saturday. Photo / Getty Images.

Hurricanes backs Conrad Smith and TJ Perenara have both come through training today and will take their place in the starting XV to meet the lowly Southern Kings at Westpac Stadium on Saturday afternoon.

Captain Smith had been hindered during the week by a sore heel, while Perenara nursed a slight calf strain but both were running at full noise at Rugby League Park in Wellington today at a Hurricanes training that featured a couple of special guests.

Japanese coach and former Australian supremo Eddie Jones was in attendance and was flanked by All Blacks assistant coach Ian Foster, who spent time with Hurricanes pivot Beauden Barrett towards the end of training to talk about his inconsistent defence.

"Conrad is clear, so he's definitely playing,'' Hurricanes assistant coach Alama Ieremia said. "He's been cleared by the medic so we'll still wait and see how it is but I think he's pretty much ready to go ... TJ Perenara - he's right to go.''

Fullback Andre Taylor has been reinstated to pull on the No 15 jersey after being benched for the game against the Highlanders two weeks ago but Ieremia said the Manawatu flyer would be better for the experience.

"There's a few things he's actually trying to work on at the moment in terms of handling stuff. But it's early days and he's got another opportunity now. The break would have done him good so hopefully this weekend we'll see him back to his best.''

This weekend's game seems like a gimme for the Hurricanes, who are coming off the bye and are at full strength, while the Kings were thoroughly outplayed by the Crusaders 55-20 in Christchurch last week.

Ieremia said after his men had begun with a two-win and two-loss start, nearly every game was a pressure encounter.

"I think every game for us from now is a little bit like that. We've had our break we've just got to make sure that we find out rhythm very early and it doesn't matter who we play this week. We've got a few issues that we want to address as a team and we are still not there yet. So we've got to focus on our role and that will be enough motivation for us to get in to this game.''

As for today's extra spectators at training, it was down to good timing.

"Eddie's been a friend of mine from when I was in Japan,'' Ieremia said. "He's come down here for a Wellington Samoa fundraiser and he's managed to come here to the Hurricanes and catch up with what I've been doing and check out a few areas that I'm trying to focus on. He's a bit of a mentor from the past as well. So he doesn't often come over so it's great to have him here.''

And Foster?

"Fozzy's doing the same. He's just popped through here. He had an NZRU meeting in town and he's just popped along as well to have a chat and I've used him in the past as well for a few ideas so it just happens to be that they're here on the same day, so no secrets there.''

Just maybe a bit of sage advice from Foster to Barrett on his defence.

Hurricanes: Andre Taylor, Alapati Leiua, Conrad Smith (c), Tim Bateman, Julian Savea, Beauden Barrett, TJ Perenara; Victor Vito, Karl Lowe, Brad Shields, Jason Eaton, Jeremy Thrush, Ben May, Dane Coles, Ben Franks. Reserves: Ash Dixon, Reggie Goodes, Mark Reddish, Faifili Levave, Chris Smylie, Tusi Pisi, Reynold Lee-Lo.

- APNZ

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