Ian Foster provides update on All Blacks' late injury set-backs
While the All Blacks may have named their team to take on the Wallabies on Thursday morning, the actual team that ran out on Eden Park on Saturday night wasn’t confirmed until right before kick-off.
The second change was so last-minute that Taukei’aho took his spot on the bench wearing the No 26 jersey, and Coles was still named as the reserve hooker by the Eden Park ground announcer.
Some onlookers would have found it curious that despite having already been nixed from the side at the time, Barrett was still a full-time participant in the All Blacks warm-up ahead of the match.
Following the match, Ian Foster gave an update on the two absentees and explained why Barrett was training with the side, despite being pulled from the line-up.
“Scott’s good,” the All Blacks coach said. “He just had a really disrupted 48 hours before the kick-off and so we made a late decision to pull him – but he still warmed up for the test and he’s good as gold, fit and available.
“It was more of a trust thing in the squad and we felt that Patty prepared well and with the disruptions for Scott, it just made it an easy decision really.”
Foster refrained from providing details on Barrett’s ‘disruptions’, simply suggesting that it was “nothing serious”.
In Coles’ case, Auckland’s infamously bad traffic potentially had a part to play, with the 34-year-old suffering from a fast-tracked warm-up.
“Basically, the bus was late for the game,” Foster revealed. “We got stuck in traffic and we probably had a quicker warm-up than what we needed and [Coles’] calf’s just tightened so we’ll look at that in the next few days.”
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Tuipulotu and Taukei’aho performed solidly in Barrett and Coles’ absences, with both players entering the fray early in the final quarter.
Tuipulotu finished the match with six tackles while Taukei’aho, in just his second test appearance, ensured the lineout continued to run smoothly following the departure of Codie Taylor.
The Chiefs hooker might be counting his lucky stars that his Waikato side were kicking off their NPC campaign on Sunday this weekend. Asafo Aumua – who is third in NZ’s hooking totem pole – was released to play for Wellington on Saturday, while Taukei’aho remained with the squad.
Had the NPC not kicked off this weekend, or had Waikato’s game been playing in one of the early matches, it could have been Aumua who’d taken Coles’ spot on the bench.
Barrett’s withdrawal, meanwhile, prevented the All Blacks from playing with three Barrett brothers on the bench for the first time in the team’s history, with Beauden and Jordie both named in the reserves for the opening Bledisloe Cup clash.
With Richie Mo’unga and Damian McKenzie having strong games at first five and fullback – Beauden and Jordie Barrett’s respective preferred positions – and Scott seemingly fit and available, the triple Barrett injection could come in the second of the Bledisloe tests next weekend.
The disruptions to Saturday’s night game ultimately weren’t too impactful, however, with the All Blacks recording a 33-25 win over their trans-Tasman neighbours.
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