Beaudie is set to carry on
Wellington - Nervous Hurricanes fans received some welcome news on Wednesday with All Blacks flyhalf Beauden Barrett declaring himself recovered from a knee injury and ready to resume playing this week against the Highlanders.
Barrett has missed more than a month of Super Rugby after injuring his right knee against the Canterbury Crusaders on May 2.
"I wouldn't be out there if I didn't feel up to it. We first thought four to six weeks and it's going to be five, so it's perfect," the 24-year-old Barrett told reporters on Wednesday.
"The knee is feeling really good. Everything's going well. I'm starting to kick the ball and I'm excited about getting back out there.
"Each (rehab) session it gets better and better. It's just registering in my brain that the knee is ok and after that I don't feel it ever again. I might get one of those moments (of doubt) again, but I feel ready to go."
New Zealand under-20 pivot Otere Black had admirably filled in for Barrett, but a 35-18 loss to the Crusaders last Friday in Nelson had Hurricanes fans nervous at the run into the playoffs without the All Blacks' flyhalf.
It was just the second loss for the table-topping Hurricanes, who can seal the number one ranking, and home advantage, for the playoffs with three competition points in their final two games.
The Highlanders, however, are quietly putting together a superbly timed run, having hammered two-time champions Waikato Chiefs 36-9 last week in Invercargill to move to second in the New Zealand standings and loom as a major threat to the Hurricanes' ambitions for a first title.
While Barrett would return to the field at McLean Park on Friday, he was not going to take responsibility for the goal kicking in Napier.
"I feel comfortable to do my job as a 10 but not really the goal-kicking," Barrett said.
"Because of the nature of the injury, it's an MCL, it's that side-on lateral movement (that is a problem).
"So that's the last thing (required) to say that I'm 100 per cent to be a goal-kicking first-five."