Super Rugby Aotearoa: No special treatment for Blues' Beauden Barrett in Wgtn 'homecoming' against Hurricanes

Hurricanes first-five Fletcher Smith insists there'll be no special attention afforded to defected Blues star Beauden Barrett, when his teammate makes his return to Wellington's Sky Stadium this weekend.

On Saturday, the All Blacks playmaker will play his first match at ground where he helped the franchise win its maiden - and only - Super Rugby crown back in 2016 since he decided to head north and sign with the Blues.

While the capital-faithful in attendance may have different ideas, Smith says it will be BAU against 'Beaudy'.

"He's obviously an influential player," Smith says. "But you can't put too much focus on him because they've got a lot of game breakers in their team who can also really hurt you.

"I'm sure he's just as excited about getting to Wellington to play as we are to play against him, so it should be a good battle."

The Hurricanes were comfortably dispatched by the Blues in the opening round of Super Rugby Aotearoa, when Barrett's combination with Otere Black in a dual playmaker role had a big influence on the outcome of the game, a tactic that's become increasingly common at all levels of the game.

Controlling their impact and offering a similar threat themselves will be critical to the Hurricanes' chances of reversing the result on Saturday, Smith says.

"They bring a really strong kicking game, espesh with [Barrett] and [Otere Black] out there, two really good pivots out there who can find space.

"Over the last couple of years at an All Blacks level they've shown how important it is to have 2 pivots out on the field. It just creates both side of attack for you of either side of the ruck

"That's something I've tried to work really hard with Jordie. He can easily slot into 10 with a receiver either side , so we've got to make the most of having his skillset there."

Whether Smith will have that chance again this weekend is yet to be determined. On Sunday, the 25-year-old Nelsonian made his first start of the season in the 17-11 win over the Highlanders ahead of Jackson Garden-Bachop in a selection that isn't rotation-based.

"There's no set number ones. We're both battling each other every week and it's good to have competition, we like to help each other out.

"There hasn't been anyone that's number one so we're just playing it by ear each week and whoever gets the opportunity hopefully does the job in the weekend."

Join us for live updates of Hurricanes v Blues from 7pm Saturday

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