You are using an older browser version. Please use a supported version for the best MSN experience.

Hurricanes first-five ready to step up

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 23/02/2017

Otere Black of the Hurricanes. © Getty Images Otere Black of the Hurricanes. Coach Chris Boyd is looking for stand-in first five-eighth Otere Black┬áto stamp his mark at No.10 when he lines up for the Hurricanes against the Sunwolves in Saturday's Super Rugby opener.

Black will start while All Blacks gun Beauden Barrett makes his impact from the bench alongside skipper and hooker Dane Coles in Tokyo.

The defending Super Rugby champions are managing the pair carefully in their return to top-level rugby.

Boyd says both Barrett and Coles are key players for the Canes "and there's no benefit in pushing them any faster than we need to".

However, there's no doubt that Black has impressed over the last couple of months directing play in the Hurricanes extensive pre-season.

"Otere has pretty much run the cutter for the last couple of months around our tactical stuff."

With Barrett likely to reclaim his starting position next week, Boyd says the timing is ideal for 21-year-old Black to make his mark, particularly after a couple of indifferent provincial rugby seasons for Manawatu.

"It's an opportunity for Otere to show us that he's ready to take over the reins should he be needed," he said.

"I think it's time for him to put a stick in the sand and say 'don't forget that I'm capable as well'.

"That's the sort of performance we're looking for on Saturday from him."

The Maori All Blacks playmaker is likely to take on goalkicking duties at Prince Chichibu Memorial Stadium, although Boyd is still keeping an open mind given Jordie Barrett's long-range skills.

Beauden Barrett's 20-year-old brother will make his Super Rugby debut at fullback in the absence of an injured Nehe Milner-Skudder (hamstring).

"Jordie can bang them over from 60-plus metres, so if there's a long one he might take that," Boyd said, while also acknowledging Black's impressive consistency from the tee.

"One of his strengths is he's an 85 per cent goal kicker over a season, so he's very accurate."

Black himself has kept his aims for the weekend simple.

"Any opportunity I get, either off the bench or in the starting line-up, I've just got to make sure that I do my role the best that I can."

image beaconimage beaconimage beacon