Taranaki will be without star playmaker Beauden Barrett for Friday's Ranfurly Shield clash against Hawke's Bay at Yarrow Stadium.
Taranaki will be without star playmaker Beauden Barrett for Friday's Ranfurly Shield challenge clash against Hawke's Bay at Yarrow Stadium.
Barrett has been called into the All Blacks' matchday 22 and will be riding pine when New Zealand host Argentina this weekend, after Aaron Cruden was promoted from the bench to replace a crocked Dan Carter.
Whilst the Amber and Blacks will be chuffed for their team-mate, the loss of Barrett is a huge blow ahead of Taranaki's Log o' Wood defence – which was retained just five days ago against Tasman.
Barrett was his exceptional self during that 49-40 victory – contributing 29 points via a try, three conversions and six penalties. He will be sorely missed.
Some good news for the 'Naki though is the return of captain Craig Clarke, who has been passed fit. Clarke's return from a grade two medial knee injury has come about sooner than expected after fears he would miss up to six weeks following the Chiefs' successful Super Rugby final.
The Super Rugby-winning skipper's inclusion is one of six changes coach Colin Cooper has made to the starting side which hung on to the Shield last Saturday.
Gone from the starting XV are former All Black Jarrad Hoeata, fellow flanker Chris Walker, lock James Broadhurst, halfback Jamison Gibson-Park, wing Frazier Climo and Barrett.
Hoeata has made way for Kane Barrett, Walker is replaced by Scott Waldrom, Gibson-Park is out of the 22 altogether after the inclusion of debutant Chris Smylie and Brett Goodin is on the bench. Climo suffered a high ankle sprain and is replaced by Jackson Ormond, while Broadhurst shifts to the bench for Clarke.
James Marshall, a new signing from Tasman, will fill in for Barrett at 10.
Taranaki: 15 Kurt Baker, 14 Waisake Naholo, 13 Willie Rickards, 12 Jayden Hayward, 11 Jackson Ormond, 10 James Marshall, 9 Chris Smylie, 8 Blade Thomson, 7 Scott Waldrom, 6 Kane Barrett, 5 Jason Eaton, 4 Craig Clarke (c), 3 Michael Bent, 2 Laurence Corlett, 1 Chris King.
Replacements: 16 Timo Tutavaha, 17 Sione Lea, 18 James Broadhurst, 19 Jarrad Hoeata, 20 Chris Walker, 21 Brett Goodin, 22 Jack Cameron.
Hawke's Bay: tbc