WELLINGTON: Wellington Hurricanes flyhalf Fletcher Smith says they cannot put too much focus on nullifying Beauden Barrett in their Super Rugby Aotearoa match on Saturday as the Auckland Blues have other players who can hurt them.
Twice World Player of the Year Barrett spent nine seasons with the Hurricanes and would be making his first appearance in Wellington since moving to the Blues this year.
Barrett has been playing fullback for the Blues with another former Hurricane, Otere Black, at flyhalf, giving their side two playmaking options, but Smith said there were numerous other game breakers in the Blues side.
"If you focus too much on one player then those other guys can really hurt you," Smith told reporters on a conference call on Monday. "He's an influential player but you can't put too much focus on him."
The Blues suffered their first loss of the domestic Super Rugby competition on Saturday, going down 26-15 to the Canterbury Crusaders, and the Hurricanes could move level with them on 12 points if they pick up the win.
The unbeaten Crusaders have 18 points and a bye this week.
Smith added that while the Hurricanes had been beaten twice this year by the Blues, once in Aotearoa and earlier in the wider Super Rugby competition, the team felt they had wasted several opportunities to win both games.
"These games do come down to those moments," Smith said.
"If you look at the Crusaders-Blues game, the Crusaders nailed those at the back end of the game and it just shows how important they are."
(Reporting by Greg Stutchbury; Editing by Peter Rutherford)