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All Blacks boss Ian Foster's verdict on Jordie Barrett's midfield move

By Sam Smith
(Photo by ANNE-CHRISTINE POUJOULAT/AFP via Getty Images)

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All Blacks head coach Ian Foster has delivered his verdict on the move from fullback to second-five by Hurricanes star Jordie Barrett.

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Barrett has garnered plenty of attention in recent weeks after having been selected in the midfield by Hurricanes boss Jason Holland in their 30-29 Super Rugby Pacific defeat to the Chiefs last Sunday.

The match was the first the 25-year-old utility back – who can play anywhere in the backline bar halfback – had played in the position since the 2019 Super Rugby season, and he has again been picked to play there against the Crusaders on Saturday.

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Barrett’s move, which has been viewed by many as a hint as to where he will play in future years, comes after he shone for the All Blacks in 2021 and ended last season’s test campaign as New Zealand’s first-choice fullback.

With that in mind, the decision to pick Barrett as a second-five – which was his primary position while playing for Canterbury and the New Zealand U20 side early in his career – has been a point of interest among onlookers.

One of those who has taken note of Barrett’s positional switch is Foster, who told the New Zealand Herald that while he is invested in how Holland is selecting his star man, that hasn’t impacted his own plans for Barrett in the All Blacks set-up.

“Has it piqued my interest? I’m always interested in what teams are doing. Jordie and I have spoken about it,” Foster said. “If it’s the right thing for the team we understand that but it probably doesn’t change our plans too much.”

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Those comments suggest Foster will continue to favour Barrett at fullback – where his height, impressive aerial attributes and kicking ability flourished in test rugby last year – for the foreseeable future.

Those qualities weren’t as prominent in Barrett’s first outing at second-five against the Chiefs, as his impact with ball in hand was limited, although he provided plenty of power defensively.

However, Foster told the New Zealand Herald that he believes Barrett’s skillset remains best-suited to the fullback role, particularly against European teams.

“He goal-kicked so well, his high-ball stuff is very good; he’s got a strong kicking game and they were things he was able to exhibit through the year,” Foster said.

“Particularly when you get to the Northern Hemisphere style you have to have the ability to deal with that high ball and make sure you’ve got a strong kicking game in your back three.

“He ticked those boxes. He wasn’t at his best against France but the rest of the tour I thought he was one of our success stories.”

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