JOHANNESBURG (Reuters) – New Zealand’s first-choice flyhalf Beauden Barrett missed Saturday’s Super Rugby clash between his Wellington Hurricanes side and the Lions due to a stomach bug, Hurricanes coach John Plumtree said.
With the All Blacks’ Damian McKenzie having already been ruled out of this year’s World Cup because of injury, the hearts of New Zealand fans would have sunk when Barrett was mysteriously missing at kick off at Ellis Park.
Yet Barrett should be available for the last game of the regular season at home to the Auckland Blues this Saturday.
“He was sick on Friday night and had not recovered by Saturday and stayed back at the hotel,” explained Plumtree.
The Hurricanes headed home on Sunday after wins in both Durban and Johannesburg over the last fortnight to ensure home advantage in the playoff quarter-final later this month.
Barrett, who was named World Rugby’s Player of the Year for both 2016 and 2017, was hardly missed as the Hurricanes won 37-17 to stay in second place in the New Zealand Conference behind the Canterbury Crusaders.
McKenzie was ruled out of the World Cup in Japan, which starts in September, when he suffered a torn anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee playing for the Waikato Chiefs against the Blues in April.
(Reporting by Mark Gleeson in Cape Town; Editing by Toby Davis)