Barrett brothers start as All Blacks name team for Wallabies clash
Beauden Barrett has been handed the All Blacks No 10 jersey for just the second time this year for the side’s final Bledisloe Cup clash against the Wallabies at Optus Stadium on Sunday.
Mo’unga is one of three key players to have not travelled to Australia due family duties, with interim captain Sam Whitelock and veteran halfback Aaron Smith also missing out on the trip across the Tasman Sea.
As a result, the promotion of Barrett off the bench and into the starting lineup isn’t the only alteration All Blacks head coach Ian Foster has had to make to his starting team.
All up, three of the six change Foster has made to his starting team have involved the three Barrett brothers, all of whom will start in their respective positions this weekend.
At lock, Scott Barrett partners with Brodie Retallick in the second row in Whitelock’s absence, which opens a space on the bench that has been filled by youngster Tupou Vaa’i, who will get his first taste of test rugby this year.
Arguably the biggest surprise, though, comes at fullback, where Jordie Barrett has been selected ahead of incumbent No 15 Damian McKenzie.
Acting as the squad’s back-up first-five option without the presence of Mo’unga, McKenzie has been demoted to the bench, where he and Vaa’i are two of five new faces, including loose forward Ethan Blackadder and injury returnee George Bridge.
Plenty of interest had surrounded who would start between Perenara, the more experienced yet combative No 9 who is still easing his way back into action after his Japanese sabbatical, and Weber, a like-for-like replacement for Smith.
However, it is Weber who has come out on top, while Perenara will ride the pine before likely being called on later in the match.
Elsewhere, Rieko Ioane has shifted to left wing and taken the No 11 jersey off of Sevu Reece to accomodate for the return of Anton Lienert-Brown, who sat out when the All Blacks last played the Wallabies at Eden Park last month.
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The match will also act as Ardie Savea’s first test as All Blacks captain after he was appointed the role last week while Whitelock, Smith and injured incumbent skipper Sam Cane remain inactive.
“In the forwards, we have picked a group that is most recently battle-hardened. A lot of them played in the first two Bledisloe Cup tests, so it’s right to go with them in this Rugby Championship test,” Foster said of his team selection in a statement.
He added that Weber warranted selection at halfback due to his presence in the All Blacks squad throughout the year, unlike Perenara, whose return to action was delayed upon his arrival back in New Zealand from Japan.
“Brad has been with us through the Steinlager Series and coming into the Rugby Championship, we really wanted to build the nine combination, especially with Aaron not here and to complement TJ’s leadership and experience, so this is a great opportunity to put our faith in Brad to start the test.”
All Blacks team to play the Wallabies
1. George Bower
2. Codie Taylor
3. Nepo Laulala
4. Brodie Retallick
5. Scott Barrett
6. Akira Ioane
7. Dalton Papalii
8. Ardie Savea (c)
9. Brad Weber
10. Beauden Barrett
11. Rieko Ioane
12. David Havili
13. Anton Lienert-Brown
14. Will Jordan
15. Jordie Barrett
16. Samisoni Taukei’aho
17. Karl Tu’inukuafe
18. Angus Ta’avao
19. Tupou Vaa’i
20. Ethan Blackadder
21. TJ Perenara
22. Damian McKenzie
23. George Bridge
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