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Ian Foster explains why Scott Barrett has been picked at No 6

By Ben Smith
(Photo by Phil Walter/Getty Images)

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Crusaders lock Scott Barrett has been named at No 6 for the All Blacks for the first time since the 2019 semi-final defeat to England as they prepare to face Ireland in the first test.

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The All Blacks options at blindside were rather thin in the squad, with one specialist at the position in Akira Ioane and versatile options like Pita Gus Sowakula and Tupou Vaa’i who cover another back row position.

The selection of Barrett was a bold move by Foster which will bolster the line out to combat a handful of tall Irish targets like Caelen Doris and Jack Conan in the loose forwards.

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Maori All Blacks post-match press conference
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Maori All Blacks post-match press conference

Defending his selection, Foster said that he knows Barrett can play there and is bringing some of his best form into this test series after a successful Super Rugby Pacific campaign with the Crusaders.

“[It’s the] first time he’s started for us there, but he’s filled in a couple of times there,” Foster said.

“He’s also played for the Crusaders there. We know that he can do it.

“He’s one of the form players in Super Rugby in the last four to six weeks. He’s on top of his game.”

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Barrett’s stint at No 6 against England in the fateful semi-final didn’t play out the way the coaches had planned as the All Black lineout couldn’t stop England on the night, leading to an early substitution for the Crusaders’ captain.

Foster explained that the lessons from that game have been taken on board and he didn’t dwell too long on the call to play Barrett at blindside once again.

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The All Blacks head coach believed the positives outweigh the risks with Barrett bringing some of the best ball carrying in the country to the table.

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“I didn’t spend too long thinking about the 2019 game,” he said.

“But we took some lessons from that, they were learned a long time ago.

“This one, we’re very clear about the strategy. It’s something we’ve talked to Scott about this possibility.

“If we look at the positives of it, apart from his set piece acumen – we know how good he is in that space – he’s also bringing a bruising defence and ball-carrying part to his game now.

“He’s probably our most dynamic lock ball carrier at the moment. We can utilise that at No.6.

“So there’s some things that even if you sit down with Scott and talk to him about it, he finds a lot of the roles very similar now, except for a couple of defensive tweaks that we’ve had to make sure we tidy up.”

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