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Hurricanes Consider Overseas Replacement for Barrett

Beauden Barrett has left a huge void to be filled in the Hurricanes back-line and the franchise are looking at all options according to reports

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(Photo by Phil Walter/Getty Images)

Beauden Barrett’s departure from the Hurricanes to the Blues has left the franchise with some pretty big shoes to be filled and they are considering overseas options according to the New Zealand Herald.

The report claims that although the franchise have out-halves in both Fletcher Smith and Jackson Garden-Bachop, they are looking for someone else and are “in conversations with several offshore options to replace Barrett”.

Hurricanes CEO Avan Lee spoke to the publication and refused to give a definitive answer as to whether the rumours are true and if anything added fuel to the fire.

“We’re very active in the market. Nothing to report – nothing is close – but we are very active in terms of conversations with players and agents assessing our options. We’d like to get that locked away sooner rather than later. There’s obviously speculation and when you’ve got quality first fives wherever they are in the world, there’s always going to be suggestions of if that player will go and take over from Beauden Barrett. That’s the world we live in – we’re in the market, so people will talk,” he said.

There have been several reports in recent weeks linking the Hurricanes with moves for the likes of Aaron Cruden, Hyden Parker and Lima Sopoaga. However, the Herald reports that none of the three stars are talking to the franchise.

The franchise may be looking for a New-Zealand qualified fly-half from an overseas club and there is no shortage if that is the plan.

Wasps duo of Jimmy Gopperth or Jacob Umaga would be good options, or French-based pair Colin Slade and Ihaia West to name a few.

However, Barrett signed his four-year contract due to the potential he sees within the Blues going forward and with him on board others at the franchise may look elsewhere.

If so then the Hurricanes may look to the Blues with the likes of Otere Black, Harry Plummer and Stephen Perofeta all vying for Barrett’s spot and could seek game-time with a new team and Barrett’s old side might be the perfect option.

Rugby League

Rugby Australia Snap Up Fijian NRL Star

Rugby Australia have confirmed the signing of one of the most exciting Rugby League players on the planet

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(Photo by Daniel Pockett/Getty Images)

Rugby Australia and the Queensland Reds have announced the signing of Fijian NRL star Suliasi Vunivalu from Melbourne Storm.

The flying-winger has put pen to paper on a two-year deal which comes into effect in 2021, which will see him join the Reds in Super Rugby and switch back to Rugby Union. 

Speaking on the massive coup Rugby Australia’s director of rugby Scott Johnson is delighted that Vunivalu has signed up and is looking forward to what he can bring to the table. 

“This is a very good signing for Australian Rugby and the Reds. Suliasi was a standout schoolboy rugby player. He is an elite finisher with a lot of big-game experience for a young man and will have an immediate impact for the Reds in 2021 and put himself right in the frame for higher honours. He is one player we have been looking at very closely this year with the skillset we are looking for in the outside backs. He has been working in a great environment at the Storm and has chosen a future in rugby, so it is a great result for the game,” he said. 

The 24-year-old has been playing for Storm since 2016, and played in consecutive Grand Finals between 2016 and 2018, scoring a record-breaking number of tries in his first two seasons and currently having 72 tries in 94 appearances for the club. 

He will hope to add to that total over his final campaign with the club, while on the international stage he has 12 tries in only eight appearances for Fiji. 

He also played in New Zealand when he was younger for the Auckland Blues, before making the move to Storm and league at 18. 

It is a major boost for both the Super Rugby franchise and the Wallabies and if he can bring his league form to the union stage it could be something special.

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Super Rugby

Crusaders Star Out for Start of Season

The Crusaders have confirmed that much like the Blues and the Hurricanes that they will not have a full compliment of players come the start of the Super Rugby season due to injury

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(Photo by Phil Walter/Getty Images)

The Crusaders have confirmed that up and coming back-rower Ethan Blackadder will miss at least the early stages of the 2020 Super Rugby season through injury.

Blackadder, who has only seven appearances for the reigning champions, dislocated his shoulder during the Mitre 10 Cup this year and will require surgery to amend the problem.

Although at 24 it seems as though seven appearances is not much, Blackadder has been smashing it while in the Mitre 10 Cup and during his showings for the Crusaders, but has been up against the likes of Kieran Read, Whetu Douglas, Jordan Taufua and Tom Sanders for a place in the pack.

This season was seen as a potential breakthrough one for the versatile forward, who can line-out at blindside-flanker or No 8, and is expected to be capped by the All Blacks once he gets a run at the top level.

However, he will have to wait a little longer for his chance to shine due to the injury.

The worrying part for him is that despite Read leaving the franchise, Cullen Grace, Ethan Roots and Sione Havili have all come in and will look to impress in his absence.

The hope will be that he can get back as soon as possible to stake his claim for a starting spot. His injury is the latest announced by a New Zealand-based Super Rugby side ahead of the new season with both the Blues and the Hurricanes confirming that Bayden Wardlaw and Ardie Savea will miss the season’s opening for their respective sides.

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Super Rugby

Savea Could Return Earlier than Expected

All Black Ardie Savea confirmed that he would be out of action for the foreseeable future over the weekend, but things might not be as bad as first thought

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Hurricanes chief executive Avan Lee has admitted that star forward Ardie Savea could return from injury well before his expected return date.

The All Black back-rower took to social media over the weekend to announce that he will miss up to six months of action as he prepares to undergo surgery on his knee next week to help with a cartilage injury. 

That meant that fans would more than likely not see their star player for the majority of the Super Rugby season. However, Lee thinks that Savea may be back in action as early as March. 

“There’s an issue with his cartilage and there is a bit of speculation about how long he will be out for, but you never really know until the surgeon has operated and seen the real extent of the issue. The prognosis at this stage is best-case scenario he’s back playing in three months, but it could be five or six months. We’re not holding to any date because some people heal well, some people have complications post-surgery, some people come back quicker than others. You’ve got to be really careful about putting a date on it,” he said while speaking to Stuff. 

His beliefs seem to be based more on hope than certainty, but it would be a major boost for the Hurricanes if their key man was to be back in action earlier than first thought. 

In his absence it looks likely that Gareth Evans and Du’Plessis Kirifi will battle it out for the openside-flanker starting berth and will give them a chance to show what they’ve got while Savea is out. 

We will have to wait and see who takes the jersey while he’s out and with the Hurricanes opening game of the 2020 Super Rugby season against the Stormers on the 1st of February it will be a long wait.

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