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Scott Roberston lifts lids on benching Beauden Barrett

Beauden Barrett - PA

New Zealand have sprung a surprise by naming Beauden Barrett on the bench for Saturday’s first Test against England in Dunedin.


Barrett has been first choice full-back since his switch from fly-half in 2019 but the 123-cap 33-year-old has lost out to Stephen Perofeta for the number 15 jersey having spent the season at Toyota Verblitz in Japan.

Perofeta has made 120 fewer All Blacks appearances and plays primarily at fly-half, but new head coach Scott Robertson revealed his form for the Blues during their march to the Super Rugby title dictated his selection.

“Obviously the experience of 123 Tests counts for a lot, but Stephen Perofeta is also a guy who is in form, good around the high ball and playing great footy,” Robertson said.

“Just two weeks ago he was playing in a Test-match level game in a final. Beauden can play his part covering both 10 and 15. When you’ve got Beauden Barrett on the bench it’s pretty special.”

The void at half-back created by Richie Mo’unga and Aaron Smith playing in Japan is filled by TJ Perenara and Damian McKenzie, two seasoned campaigners who have been limited to supporting roles for much of their Test careers.

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Perenara won the last of his 80 caps against England at Twickenham in November 2022 when he ruptured his Achilles, resulting in a lengthy lay-off.


“TJ has picked himself. He’s on form and he’s a competitor. He’s owned a lot of this week and he’s a Test match footballer,” Robertson said.

Robertson’s first matchday 23 since replacing Ian Foster as head coach in the wake of last autumn’s World Cup has 934 caps and is led by second row Scott Barrett.

“This was a very tough squad to pick, but we’ve selected the best 23 players to beat England on Saturday,” Robertson said.

“There is a lot of excitement in the group for our first Test and we’re walking together toward this opportunity to represent New Zealand. We’ve prepared well and we’re ready.”


New Zealand team: S Perofeta; S Reece, R Ioane, J Barrett, M Tele’a; D McKenzie, TJ Perenara; E de Groot, C Taylor, T Lomax, S Barrett (captain), P Tuipulotu, S Finau, D Papali’i, A Savea.

Replacements: A Aumua, O Tu’ungafasi, F Newell, T Vaa’i, L Jacobson, F Christie, A Lienert-Brown, B Barrett.


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Todd 15 days ago

The Blues won in-spite of Perofeta. He’s been average all season. I think Scott Robinsons come-over is effecting his judgement

Barry 16 days ago

Poorly worded headline. I thought Ricky Razors was bench pressing Barrett.

So disappointed.

Mzilikazi 16 days ago

Great player at his peak, best in the world at peak, but that is yesterday. I’m actually surprised Beauden is even in the 23. England will have analysed his play carefully,and will attempt to expose him, and probably succeed on occasion/

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