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Jordie Barrett just a stop-gap

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Steve Hansen on his new playmaker: 'Hopefully we don't see him at 10 too many times'

Jordie Barrett is an exceptionally talented player.

He’s quick, confident in the air, and has a useful pair of kicking boots on him.

Jordie Barrett is not, however, a 10.

That’s not supposed to be a controversial poke at Steve Hansen’s selection of Barrett at first five for New Zealand’s upcoming match against Namibia – that’s basically how Hansen sees it too.

The All Blacks were always going to need to be a bit flexible with their selections at this World Cup. They made the decision to take just two specialist first fives to Japan in Beauden Barrett and Richie Mo’unga, which is a risky manoeuvre should one of them pick up an injury.

Continued below…

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The fact that both players are starters in Hansen’s first-choice lineup further complicates things. A fill-in was always going to be necessary for one of the All Blacks’ less challenging fixtures.

In steps Jordie Barrett, who will now play his first professional game of rugby in the 10 jersey.

Hansen has no qualms with shifting the fullback-cum-wing-cum-midfielder into the first five role, despite his inexperience.

“We believe he has the skill-set and the confidence to do it,” Hansen said after the team naming.

“He has played there before at lower levels. He’ll be fine.”

The World Cup is a tough place to debut in the most important position on the field, but Barrett is used to pressure. He made his international starting debut against the British and Irish Lions, after all.

Barrett has now clocked up 13 appearances for the All Blacks, covering primarily fullback and wing but also popping up in the midfield against France last year.

Arguably Barrett’s most impressive performances to date at any level have come in the 12 jersey for Canterbury when he helped them to a Mitre 10 Cup title in 2016. Barrett was subsequently named the provincial player of the year.

10 will be a completely new challenge for the Hurricane, but one that could help improve the prodigiously talented player’s decision making and confidence.

“He’s been working on his patience and execution and coming into 10 will further enhance that,” said Hansen.

But it’s certainly not going to be a permanent move for Barrett.

“Hopefully we don’t see him at 10 too many times. He’s a back-three player. As he gets older he may end up in midfield. He has a big boot, he’s good under the high ball. He’s brave with chase and catch, good handling skills.”

One of New Zealand’s biggest rivals, England, are in the midst of preparing to take on Argentina in the World Cup:

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Steve Hansen on his new playmaker: 'Hopefully we don't see him at 10 too many times'