All Blacks fly-half Beauden Barrett is a 50 per cent chance to play this week as the top-of-the-table Hurricanes look to bounce back from a clumsy loss to the Crusaders.
Barrett has been out for a month with a medial ligament tear and Hurricanes coach Chris Boyd says the decision on Barrett will be made after training on Monday whether his knee is strong enough for him to take the field against the Highlanders in Napier on Friday.
If Barrett is fit that will release Otere Black to go and play for New Zealand in the under-20 World Cup in Italy, which starts this week.
The high-flying Hurricanes were undone by the Crusaders 35-18 in Nelson on Friday, a result that irked Boyd.
His side were unable to secure set piece ball and were unable to use, or threw away, 70 per cent of possession, he said.
“They played one of their better games of the season and we were poor. We need to put that behind us and move on.”
However, he wasn’t of the mindset it was getting a bad performance out of the way.
“The irritating thing is that it possibly didn’t need to happen. People say it’s good to have one of those games that you can flush away … but at the end of the day we were hoping that we weren’t going to have a howler.
“We don’t mind getting beaten if you perform well and the other side goes better.”
As well as having their key playmaker Barrett in doubt, the Hurricanes have lost second-string hooker Motu Matu’u for four weeks with a similar knee problem. Outside back Matt Proctor is also still suffering concussion symptoms.
A decision is yet to be made on whether to rest All Black Ma’a Nonu.
The Highlanders, coming off a 36-9 thumping of the Chiefs, will rest their three All Blacks for the Hurricanes match, but Boyd was not changing his game plan on hearing that news.
“It doesn’t really matter. The Crusaders had 10 out and we didn’t do so good against them.”