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'I think Foster is incredibly, incredibly stubborn on this': The changes the All Blacks need in 2023

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

The All Blacks will start their 2023 season riding a seven game undefeated streak after finishing last year with six wins and a draw.

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After a rocky start to 2022 the team found some rhythm after making some changes with a pair of new assistants in Jason Ryan and Joe Schmidt.

However, more changes must come according to Kiwi scribe Mark Reason who believes that the team needs to send two-time World Player of the Year Beauden Barrett to the bench to accomodate Crusaders flyer Will Jordan.

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“I’d very much like to see Will Jordan come back in at fullback, I think that is an important change for them to make,” Reason said on Stuff’s The Podium podcast.

“I think the whole thing with the alpha male, Richie [Mo’unga] and Beauden [Barrett] shadowing each other a bit, is not helpful.

“I’d much rather see Beauden become the impact player off the bench which he is so brilliant at. I think that would free up Richie a bit.”

Richie Mo’unga became the All Blacks first choice option at No 10 down the stretch after the win over the Springboks in the second Test at Ellis Park.

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The Crusaders pivot looked to have lost the role in 2021 after staying back in New Zealand for family reasons, allowing Beauden Barrett to play a string of games at first five-eighth.

After losing at Mbombela Stadium with Barrett starting at 10, the new coaching staff initiated the change once again.

The Kiwi rugby writer called on consistency in selection, particularly in the midfield, so combinations can be settled before the World Cup.

“There’s a lot of work in forming the 10-12-13 combination. One of the big failings of Foster’s coaching career has been inconsistency in selection,” he said.

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“Mo’unga has played with I think, nine of ten different No 12s in his fairly short international career.

“Again, why did they change everything for the Scotland game? Madness, when you want to get some consistency in selection so these partnerships can form.”

The All Blacks looked to have found gold with the selection of regular fullback Jordie Barrett at second five-eighth in the final Bledisloe Test of the year.

Barrett continued at No 12 on the end of year tour against Wales, but was swapped out again for David Havili against Scotland.

“One of the reasons Carter was so good, obviously he was one of the great, great players but he played with Ma’a Nonu and Conrad Smith in so many Tests,” Reason said.

“They need familiarity to decide who their 10-12-13 is.

“For my money that is probably going to be Mo’unga, Jordie Barrett now, and Rieko Ioane and they need to stick with them.”

The end-of-year tour was always a chance for Blues openside Dalton Papalii to start after an injury to regular captain Sam Cane against Japan.

Reason believed it was time for Foster to start a new chapter with a new captain after the toll of injuries that Cane has had.

“The whole country knows he shouldn’t be, he’s not the magnificent player he was five years ago, and why should he be after so many hideous injuries,” Reason explained.

“He’s not that player, he gives away too many penalties, which cost the All Blacks in some of the games against Ireland.

“And I’m not even convinced by his leadership, he’s kind of neither one thing or the other as a leader. He’s not the strong man or the very, very vocal man.

“He sits in between. He’s misspoken at times after games, so I don’t think he should be [All Blacks captain].

“Will he be? I think Foster is incredibly, incredibly stubborn on this. If he holds through for the Chiefs I suspect he will be.”

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