Hurricanes need to start well to be competitive at the business end - Barrett

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The Hurricanes host the Blues on Saturday in Wellington and off the back of their 12-35 loss to the Highlanders on Friday in Alexandra they know the pressure will be on from the outset.

 

Barrett said the side was aware that their season needed to have a good start, especially after finishing so well last year.

 

"By the end of the competition last year, we felt we were one of the best sides in the comp [competition]. All our hard work was undone because we dropped a couple of games early.

 

"We know we need to start well, and it's as simple as that," he said.

 

The Blues would provide a reminder of that because they would be better than they were last year. They had gone down to the Hurricanes 27-29 in Wellington.

 

"We're expecting a great Blues side on Saturday.

 

"They've been trending upwards for a few years now, and they have the same sort of group, dangerous players everywhere," he said.

 

 

Law changes would ensure the ball would be in play for longer in games which created extra demands on player fitness.

 

"It was tough last year and if the pre-season against the Highlanders is anything to go by then I'm going to be blowing. I might need to drop a few kilos. The ball is in play a lot more, so it's going to be exciting," he said.

 

The goal-line dropout would also require some key decision-making of fullbacks.

 

"When the ball is near the goal-line, where to position yourself and what's the best outcome. I think team's will be pretty green in that area and if people can cotton on to what works best early, I think there's opportunities there," he said.

 

Another feature of the season would be the return of wing Julian Savea who Barrett expected to have an impact.

 

"Jules is in unbelievable condition, trains well and has so much knowledge for myself and all the other young boys in the team. He's seriously impressive, and I'm looking forward to seeing him play well again on Saturday," he said.

 

Assistant coach Cory Jane said there had been some messy play in Alexandra and the side's systems had been 'a bit average' but they had a chance to work on them.

 

He said the competition would be physical and fast again this year but he wondered if it would be sharp as when they started last year. That was on the back of a lot of time put into players' fitness during the national lockdown.

 

"It might take a little bit to get going over the next couple of weeks but I think the contact and the willingness to play will be there," he said.