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Rugby | Vodacom Super Rugby

John Mitchell © Gallo Images

Bulls wary of Barrett absence

The Vodacom Bulls are treating news that All Black and World Rugby Player of the year Beauden Barrett won’t be playing this weekend at Loftus Versfeld with a tiny smidgen of suspicion.

It isn’t that the Bulls don’t believe the reports that Barrett won’t be starting for the Hurricanes, it is rather because they think he may well make an appearance somewhere off the bench this week.

Bulls coach John Mitchell laughed off the reports but said he had an idea that Barrett may well be seen on the park at Loftus Versfeld.

It isn’t clear if the Hurricanes are simply playing mind games or if they will bring Barrett on from the bench, but they certainly are making a meal of his inclusion ahead of both side’s opening games in round two of the competition.

“He hasn't played any pre-season minutes, so he'll come off the bench probably in Pretoria. We may yet choose to make that one of his All Black rest weeks, we'll wait and see how that pans out," Hurricanes head coach Chris Boyd told stuff.co.nz about Barrett before the team left for South Africa.

The All Black players have to rest a certain number of weeks in Super Rugby according to their agreement with the New Zealand Rugby Union.

But Mitchell isn’t buying it, and laughed off the fact Barrett might not be there.

“I wouldn’t be surprised if he features at some point,” Mitchell joked.

“I think Beaudi and Jason – it depends on their culture. If it is their culture to reward the guys who have done the hard work, then they are making the right decision. But he is world class. He is a high performance athlete, so I don’t think he would be short of a gallop.

“I have read at some point that he is still good for 40 minutes.”

Mitchell, who went to the same school as Barrett – the Francis Douglas Memorial College – and played with his dad Kevin at school, said he was hoping Barrett could play. Barrett’s father Kevin played for the Hurricanes for two years and 167 times for Taranaki in his heyday before his three All Black sons came onto the scene.

“To be fair, if he plays that is great, it is even better. You want this competition to have the best players playing and he is world class and he also went to the same school that I did. My old school will be very happy about that,” Mitchell laughed.

“I also played first XV with his father, he’s a good Taranaki boy.”

The match kicks off at 5pm.


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