World Cup favourites New Zealand have have made 11 changes for their Pool B game against Canada at Oita Stadium on Wednesday but there is no rest for dual playmakers Richie Mo’unga and Beauden Barrett.
Winger Rieko Ioane, at 22 the youngest member of the All Blacks squad, is among the fringe players getting a run-out but coach Steve Hansen is keen to take another long look at fly-half Mo’unga’s partnership with full-back Barrett.
“I just wanted to give them more time together,” said Hansen, whose side are aiming to make it 16 World Cup wins in a row. “I think it’s important.
“They haven’t had a lot of Test matches together so they just need some more time. I’m not saying they’re not clicking or anything like that. It’s just time.”
— All Blacks (@AllBlacks) October 1, 2019
With Jordie on the wing and Scott in the second row, the Barrett brothers will become the first trio of siblings to start for New Zealand.
Captain Kieran Read said: “It’s exciting for them and great value for our team and so to put them all on the field at the same time, it’ll be just like their backyard out there at some point.”
Read and try-scorer Scott Barrett are the only other players to retain their starting spots from the team that began their campaign with a 23-13 victory over South Africa.
The All Blacks have won all three previous meetings but Hansen has pledged not to under-estimate the Canadians, who have made six changes to the starting XV which lost 48-7 to Italy in their opening game.
Hansen said: “Canada probably haven’t the strength they have had in the past but what they are is a very proud team, a very proud nation and they’re led by a very, very good rugby player Tyler Ardron.
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— RugbyPass (@RugbyPass) October 1, 2019
“I think he’s established himself as good as anyone in Super Rugby and they’ll play with a lot of pride.
“I read (on Tuesday morning) that one of their players thinks he’s a ‘Joe Nobody’ and can’t wait to be tackled by Kieran Read so that tells you their attitude is they’re coming to the party. It’ll be physical as it always is against the Canadians.”
Canada coach Kingsley Jones said: “We totally understand what we’re facing on Wednesday but we look forward with excitement.
“For us to prepare to play against some of the best players in the world, for players it’s what they dream about.
“They want to measure themselves against the best. We want to come out in that game with a lot of respect, show the individuals playing good, the coaching staff too, for our country.”
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