Super Rugby: Aaron Cruden and Beauden Barrett go head-to-head for All Blacks spot
Fly-halves Aaron Cruden and Beauden Barrett will face each other on Saturday as they fight for a New Zealand Test spot.
Last Updated: 22/05/14 11:50am
The Hurricanes take on the Chiefs on Saturday, with Barrett expected to start for the Hurricanes and Cruden coming off the bench for the Chiefs, making his return from a broken thumb.
Dan Carter has held down the New Zealand No 10 shirt for the last 10 years, cementing his position at the age of 22 during the tour of Europe.
But with Carter on sabbatical until after the three-Test series with England, it gives the two hopefuls a chance to stake a claim.
Cruden seems to have the upper hand after starting at fly-half last year when Carter was out injured, however the 22-year-old Barrett has impressed in Super Rugby this season.
The Chiefs were tempted to get Cruden straight back into the starting XV after six weeks out, but the great form of Gareth Anscombe has meant he will start from the bench, although it is expected he will play a part.
"That decision was made early in the week when we looked at the amount of time it was going to take to get Aaron back after his time away with the All Blacks," Chiefs assistant coach Tom Coventry told reporters.
"He probably needed a full week with us so I think we just decided that considering he's been out for a little while and his unavailability early in the week it was prudent to leave Gareth in his position."
Coventry added the match should also provide healthy competition for other All Blacks positions, with the second training camp in Wellington starting on Sunday before Hansen names his 31-man squad for the series against England on June 1.
"Those little battles are always important for players, they are always conscious of them." Coventry said.
"They are not really spoken of a lot but I'm sure in the back of those boys' minds that they are challenging for starting positions in the All Blacks that's important for them ... but I think the boys are probably more focused on how well this team needs to play this weekend to get a result."
The game on Saturday is important for both sides, with the Chiefs looking to gain home advantage for the play-offs, while the Hurricanes sit eighth, just one point off a play-off spot.
The Hurricanes face only New Zealand sides for their final four games, with a game in hand over fifth-placed Highlanders on 34 points, and sixth-placed Canterbury Crusaders on 32 points.
As such, they must win all of their remaining games. However, captain Conrad Smith said they had tried to just treat the week as they would any other.
"We have obviously been keen to approach it like we do most weeks ... but there has been an edge," he told reporters in Wellington.
"We realised that it is all riding on the next four weeks and we can't slip up.
"That makes it tough but sometimes you have to enjoy the challenge as well."
You can see the Hurricanes take on the Chiefs live on Sky Sports 2HD from 8:30am on Saturday.