Super Rugby 2019: Week three preview

Beauden Barrett's return highlights another exciting weekend of Super Rugby action.

The All Blacks pivot will make his first appearance of the season for the Hurricanes, starting in the number 10 jersey against the Brumbies on Friday night.

Coach John Plumtree has been able to name his strongest XV of the season, with TJ Perenara, Ngani Laumape, Ardie Savea and Vaea Fifita joining Barrett in the run-on side.

But they will need to be at their best, with the Brumbies coming off their mauling of the Chiefs in Canberra.

The Highlanders are hunting a third straight victory, when they travel to Melbourne to play the improving Rebels.

But they face an uphill battle without star All Blacks Ben Smith and Aaron Smith. Coach Aaron Mauger has shifted exciting talent Josh Ioane to fullback, meaning a first Highlanders start for Bryn Gatland in the number 10 jersey.

The Highlanders will rely on the physicality of their abrasive loose-forward trio of Elliot Dixon, James Lentjes and Shannon Frizell to get them on the front foot, allowing the likes of Waisake Naholo a chance to shine out wide.

The Crusaders have looked unflappable through the opening two weeks of their potential three-peat. They have the luxury of resting Ryan Crotty this week, yet still field one of the most potent looking backlines in the competition.

Tim Bateman will partner Jack Goodhue in the midfield, with an electric back three of Will Jordan, Braydon Ennor and George Bridge set to unleash on the Reds in Brisbane.

The Chiefs host the Sunwolves on Saturday night, looking to bury memories of the massacre in Canberra.

Super Rugby 2019: Week three preview

As always, the Chiefs' strength lies in the backs, led by Damian McKenzie at first-five. Sean Wainui will play his first game of the season on the wing, joining Shaun Stephenson and Etene Nanai-Seturo in the three-quarters.

Brodie Retallick will no doubt lead from the front in his 101st Super Rugby match.

Then we have the Blues. A trip to Buenos Aires to play the Jaguares isn't what you would order coming off two losses to start the season.

Despite all the rhetoric of a new era in Auckland, Sunday morning's feeble loss at the hands of the Sharks brought back bad memories for Blues fans.

Is it too early to say this is a must-win game?

Newshub.

Join Newshub from 7:30pm Friday night as the Hurricanes host the Brumbies.

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