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‘I’m a big fan’: Former All Black selects his midfield duo for 2023

By Finn Morton
Jordie Barrett and Rieko Ioane. (Photo by Cameron Spencer/Getty Images)

This time last year, All Blacks and Hurricanes star Jordie Barrett was widely considered to be the best fullback in New Zealand. Now, Barrett might be the best in another position.


Barrett played a majority of his rugby out the back for both club and country in 2022, but was given an intriguing opportunity to start at inside centre in a Bledisloe Cup Test.

This, as we now know, was a gamechanger for the All Blacks.

Playing in the No. 12 jersey for the first time at Test level, Barrett put on a masterclass against Dave Rennie’s Wallabies in Auckland – showing skill and maturity on both sides of the ball.

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Barrett went on to cement his place in the All Blacks’ midfield during their successful end-of-season tour, and did so alongside talented utility Rieko Ioane.

Much like Jordie, Ioane has had to bide his time as an outside back, before making a successful switch to the midfield at Test level.

The pair have formed a formidable combination, and former All Black Daryl Gibson believes the duo should start in the midfield at this year’s Rugby World Cup in France.

“I’m a big fan of Jordie Barrett at the moment, I think he’s doing some good stuff,” Gibson told SENZ Breakfast.


“Then obviously Rieko for me, I think he’s grown enormously in the 13 jersey.

“I’ve been quite critical of his defensive reads in the past, but I think he’s really improved in that area.

“His defence is becoming Conrad Smith-like, very consistent (and he is) making the right calls at the right times.

“So for me, I’m going to stick with the incumbents, and it will be creating plenty of competition for those other men trying to knock them off.”

Chiefs star Anton Lienert-Brown, who played his 100th match for the franchise last weekend, is another world-class option for All Blacks coach Ian Foster.


“I’ve always liked Anton, so I think he’ll be there or thereabouts as well,” he added.

Anton Lienert-Brown and the Chiefs are set to take on the Queensland Reds in Hamilton on Friday evening.

As for Barrett and Ioane, they’ll take the field for their respective Super Rugby Pacific franchises on Saturday.

The Hurricanes take on Moana Pasifika on Saturday afternoon, while Ioane’s Blues are set to take on the champion Crusaders in Christchurch.


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