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Ian Foster explains why Jordie Barrett has been selected at No 12 in new midfield

By Ned Lester
Photo by Cameron Spencer/Getty Images

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All Blacks head coach Ian Foster has explained the reasoning behind the decision to move his fullback Jordie Barrett into the midfield for Saturday’s second Bledisloe test in Auckland.

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The All Blacks lost their two preferred second fives in the space of 10 minutes during their dramatic Bledisloe win at Marvel Stadium last Thursday.

Now, after some strong debate amongst pundits, the unlikely battle for New Zealand’s third choice No 12 has been settled, with Ian Foster naming Jordie Barrett as the starting partner for Rieko Ioane while Ioane’s Blues teammate and former NRL star Roger Tuivasa-Sheck will enter the game off the bench.

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“It’s based on the experience they had last week,” Foster said.

“We just felt they can start at a high level because they’ve just had the best part of 60 minutes of a test match so that combination’s a bit stronger.”

“We just felt that the learnings and experience they had there, just flow through to this game and (we’ll) maybe make some changes later on.”

David Havili started the test in Melbourne but was pulled off the field due to a concussion, Quinn Tupaea came onto the field as a replacement but suffered a knee injury in a ruck when Australian replacement lock Darcy Swain dangerously attempted a clear out.

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Swain has since been given a six week ban for the play by SANZAAR’s judicial committee.

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While Havili’s concussion will only see him sit out one game, Tupaea’s ruptured MCL will see him in rehab for the remainder of the international season, leaving a vacancy in the replacement midfield role for the All Blacks.

Jordie Barrett has made no secret of his intent to play in the midfield but Ian Foster has previously stated he doesn’t see Barrett in that role at the international level.

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Foster confirmed Barrett’s opportunity in the midfield in both tests was purely due to injury cover.

“It was a pretty unique situation because we lost two players within about five minutes of each other so it was a late change clearly,” he said.

“But, it’s a ‘what if’ that we have to deal with and it’s a ‘what if’ that I guess we’ve been dealing with at trainings.

“He [Jordie Barrett] went pretty good, he was a bit rusty on a few calls, showed probably too eager in many ways but again, there’s some nice lessons there.

“Roger’s had a couple NPC games, so he’s come back in and training well and has a chance just to watch the game unfold and then… see what happens.”

As for Barrett’s strengths that translate well for him in the midfield, Foster complimented his broad skillset.

“He’s a strong carrier, aggressive defender, can kick and a good communicator.”

Jordie’s move to the midfield has opened the door for someone new at fullback, including the possibility of seeing Will Jordan get a chance at his preferred position, but Foster remained consistent in his selection process.

“Well, Beaudy [Beauden Barrett] played three quarters of a game there last week so again, we felt like [selecting] those combinations we’d already been using.

“Did we consider Will? Yep, and you might see him slip back there at some point.”

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