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Canes expect better from Barrett and Coles

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 1/03/2017 Daniel Gilhooly

Two heavy-hitters of international rugby in 2016, All Blacks Beauden Barrett and Dane Coles were modest at best in their return to Super Rugby last week reckons Hurricanes coach Chris Boyd.

First five-eighth Barrett and hooker/captain Coles both made their first statements off the reserves bench in the 83-17 pummelling of the Sunwolves in Tokyo.

The world class Test pair were injected after 60 minutes, exactly when the Hurricanes started to wobble, losing the final quarter 12-0 to a home side playing for pride.

"It would be fair to say I thought both of them were a bit rusty last week," Boyd said.

"There's a mentality difference too. Beaudy and Coles are both used to starting. It's quite a hard ask for a guy to come off the bench and you're 50 points up and things are going pretty well.

"They could slop into some habits that they wouldn't have appreciated."

Rising No.10 Otere Black and hooker Ricky Riccitelli drop to the bench while the defending champions have made two other starting changes for Saturday's clash with the Melbourne Rebels - their first game in Wellington since clinching their maiden title in the final against the Lions seven months ago.

Eight-Test winger Nehe Milner-Skudder replaces Jordie Barrett at fullback, playing his first Super Rugby game for a year after 2016 was mostly wiped out by a shoulder injury.

No.8 Blade Thomson, who suffered a dislocated shoulder in Tokyo, is replaced by Canterbury recruit Reed Prinsep, who made his debut off the bench last week.

Boyd is concerned about the possible severity of Thomson's injury. He underwent a shoulder surgery last year and a lengthy break looms if scans give an undesired result this week.

Vince Aso is retained on the right wing, having received a late promotion last week when veteran Cory Jane suffered a neck injury at training.

Boyd says the Hurricanes players are ignoring the performance of the Rebels in last week's 56-18 loss to the Blues in Melbourne.

They are sure a stiffer challenge awaits than was provided by the under-prepared Sunwolves.

Hurricanes: Nehe Milner-Skudder, Vince Aso, Matt Proctor, Ngani Laumape, Julian Savea, Beauden Barrett, TJ Perenara, Reed Prinsep, Ardie Savea, Brad Shields, Michael Fatialofa, James Blackwell, Jeffery To'omaga-Allen, Dane Coles (capt), Chris Eves. Reserves: Ricky Riccitelli, Ben May, Mike Kainga, Mark Abbott, Callum Gibbins, Chris Smylie, Otere Black, Jordie Barrett.

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