Barrett's first-five trial by fire

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Friday, May 25, 2012    Getty Images

Since Kurtley Beale's switch from fullback to pivot the Rebels have been a vastly different team to the one that stumbled their way through the early rounds of Investec Super Rugby.

After a narrow loss to the Bulls, the Rebels have enjoyed back-to-back wins against the Crusaders and Force to climb to third in the Australian conference.

"He's a great player. He plays an expansive game. He's real sharp on his feet and has a good kicking game. I'm going to have to be on my toes and so is the inside defence," said Barrett, who shared a room with Daniel Carter at the All Blacks camp in Auckland.

"(Beale) will take it to the line. He's got a good flat pass game. He's got everything. He's definitely a threat who we've got to look out for."

The Rebels' more expansive game-plan with Beale pulling the strings could mean more opportunities to counter-attack for the Hurricanes, who will have Alapati Leiua on the right wing in place of the injured Cory Jane on Saturday.

"The style they play is probably a bit more high-risk than say someone like the Highlanders," said second-five Tim Bateman.

"But what it all comes back to is we need to defend well. What we've done well this season when we have defended well is we've scored a lot of tries from turnovers and we've been able to bounce back after taking a lot of pressure and attack."

It worked to a degree against the Brumbies last weekend before the Hurricanes fell asleep in the second half and the Australians walked off with a 37-25 win.

"(A loss) like that hurt the boys a lot," said captain Conrad Smith. "It still lingers round and that's good. You want it to fuel the fire for Saturday when you can make up for it."

Coach Mark Hammett has made five changes to the team this week. Leiua is a straight swap for Jane, while Barrett is restored at 10 after coming on at fullback when Jane limped off injured and Tusi Pisi returns to the bench.

In the forwards Faifili Levave returns at six in place of All Black training camp member Brad Shields, Jack Lam comes in for Karl Lowe (knee) and Jeff Toomaga-Allen replaces Reg Goodes in the front row which sees Ben May shift to the loosehead.

The Hurricanes will be hoping the reshuffle can spark a change in form at Westpac Stadium where they have managed just one win from five matches there this season.

"We haven't always played our best footy at home and we've talked about that," admitted Smith. "We want to put that right. It's a big focus."

The skipper was less sure of the reasons why the team seemed to be performing better on the road than at home.

"(The pressure of playing in front of home fans) could be part of it... especially in a group that's really keen to impress home fans," Smith added.

"It also could be the set-up of your day is a lot different. When you're travelling away it's pretty easy to get into the mood of the game because you're all together and in a camp pretty much for three days.

"Whereas when you're at home, especially nowadays when we just rock up an hour and a half before kick-off, that's an individual thing in making sure that regardless of where you are playing you're still in the right frame of mind.

"That's what we've got to put on them to make sure we do that because we expect guys to turn up in a good state. I'm not saying they are not. It's just one of those things that's impossible to judge."

Hurricanes: 1. Ben May, 2. Dane Coles, 3. Jeffery Toomaga-Allen, 4. Jeremy Thrush, 5. Jason Eaton, 6. Faifili Levave, 7. Jack Lam, 8. Victor Vito, 9. TJ Perenara, 10. Beauden Barrett, 11. Julian Savea, 12. Tim Bateman, 13. Conrad Smith (c), 14. Alapati Leiua, 15. Andre Taylor.
Replacements: 16. Motu Matu’u, 17. Reg Goodes, 18. James Broadhurst, 19. Brad Shields, 20. Chris Eaton, 21. Tusi Pisi, 22. Jayden Hayward.