• Canes bank on Barrett

    Beauden Barrett will need to be at his best if the Hurricanes are to pick up a first win over the Rebels in Melbourne on Friday.

    The Wellington-based franchise remain just outside the play-off spots and this match provides them with the opportunity to place some pressure on those around them.

    Much will depend on the 22-year old Barrett, who has had a stellar season thus far. The Hurricanes have scored the most tries in this season's competition and credit must go to Barrett for the way he has managed this young backline.

    While the Canes are noted for their ability with ball in hand, Barrett has brought some balance to their play, having had the most kicks from hand this season. While his kicking off the tee has been far from infallible, his game-management has been impressive. If he's allowed to play his game, the Hurricanes could head back across the Tasman in a strong position to make a title tilt.

    Both previous meetings between these sides have seen big home wins. Last season, the Hurricanes notched up nine tries, including a hat-trick from Julian Savea, in a 66-24 win.

    Hurricanes coach Mark Hammett has given his forward pack a slight reshuffle, where Reggie Goodes slots into loosehead prop for Ben Franks, who moves to tighthead in place of Jeffery Toomaga-Allen. Ardie Savea also comes into the line-up, with Jack Lam moving to the bench. The backline, which worked to great effect against the Waratahs last week, remains unchanged.

    The Force have made two changes, with Ben Meehan coming in for the injured Nic Stirzaker. Up front, Pat Leafa replaces Shota Horie in the starting line-up after coming off the bench to good effect against the Sharks last Friday.

    HEAD TO HEAD
    Overall: Rebels 1, Hurricanes 1
    In Melbourne: Rebels 1, Hurricanes 0

    BARRETT'S STATS THAT MATTER
    147 – Number of points scored (Rank 1)
    5 – Number of tries (Rank 3)
    74.2% – Percentage of successful kicks at goal
    Source: Vodacom Stats App

    Rebels – 15 Jason Woodward, 14 Male Sau, 13 Tamati Ellison, 12 Mitch Inman, 11 Tom English, 10 Bryce Hegarty, 9 Luke Burgess, 8 Scott Higginbotham (c), 7 Scott Fuglistaller, 6 Colby Fainga'a, 5 Luke Jones, 4 Cadeyrn Neville, 3 Laurie Weeks, 2 Pat Leafa, 1 Cruze Ah-Nau.
    Subs: 16 Shota Horie, 17 Max Lahiff, 18 Paul Alo-Emilie, 19 Hugh Pyle, 20 Sean McMahon, 21 Ben Meehan, 22 Tom Kingston, 23 Angus Roberts.

    Hurricanes – 15 Andre Taylor, 14 Cory Jane, 13 Conrad Smith (c), 12 Alapati Leiua, 11 Julian Savea, 10 Beauden Barrett, 9 TJ Perenara, 8 Victor Vito, 7 Ardie Savea, 6 Faifili Levave, 5 James Broadhurst, 4 Jeremy Thrush/Blade Thomson, 3 Ben Franks, 2 Dane Coles, 1 Reggie Goodes.
    Subs: 16 Motu Matu'u, 17 Chris Eves, 18 Jeffery Toomaga-Allen, 19 Blade Thomson/Brad Shields, 20 Jack Lam, 21 Billy Guyton, 22 Tim Bateman, 23 Matt Proctor.

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    Photo: Rob Jefferies/Getty Images