Jordie Barrett’s positional merry-go-round will continue when he starts at centre for the Hurricanes against the Highlanders on Friday night.
Thirteen will be the fourth different starting number he has worn in seven games this season after playing at fullback, right wing and second-five.
His move to partner Ngani Laumape in the midfield comes after first-choice centre Matt Proctor picked up a knock sufficiently bad to see him move to the bench, while Vince Aso’s pectoral injury has been confirmed as likely season-ending, with only a slight chance he would be back if the Hurricanes made a deep run into the Super Rugby playoffs.
Wes Goosen takes Barrett’s spot on the right wing, while the only other change to the starting XV sees Bay of Plenty and Manu Samoa lock Kane Le’aupepe start after making his debut off the bench in the 32-8 loss to the Crusaders last weekend.
Captain and hooker Dane Coles remains out with a calf strain. TJ Perenara will again captain the side from halfback.
Hurricanes coach John Plumtree said in an ideal world Barrett would be locked into a regular starting position, but injuries to Aso and Proctor, as well as depth midfielders such as Billy Proctor and Peter Umaga-Jensen, had forced his hand.
“I’m not big on moving players around, I’d like him to settle in his favourite position, but right now, because of injuries, we’ve had to do this.”
The shift will likely be welcomed by Barrett, who said two weeks ago he preferred playing in the midfield rather than on the wing.
Plumtree said he was excited to see how his combination with Laumape worked.
“I’m looking forward to seeing how he plays with Ngani at the weekend because they’ve got quite different skillsets and it will be quite good to watch them play together to see how they complement each other.”
Chase Tiatia has been given another start at fullback despite a couple of errors against the Crusaders, including dropping a high ball which gifted the Crusaders their second try, but Plumtree has backed him again and said his overall performance was “all right”.
“There were one or two little things that happened to him around the second try. It wasn’t a great kick from Beaudy [Beauden Barrett] and it put Chase under a lot of pressure. He had to race across to the other side of the field to get to that contestable kick that was returned. I’m not phased at all about Chase, I think he’s done really well.”