Ian Foster has opened up on how he sees the debate surrounding who should start at No. 10 for the All Blacks and the use of the dual playmaking axis.
Much scrutiny has been focused on Richie Mo’unga’s selection at first-five for New Zealand, with two-time World Rugby Player of the Year Beauden Barrett spending the last two seasons playing at fullback.
Large portions of the New Zealand public are yet to be sold on the concept of picking Barrett at No. 15 while Mo’unga runs the cutter, but, in an interview with the New Zealand Herald, Foster revealed it’s not a new tactic.
“Ever since I started working with Steve Hansen in 2012 we’ve always tried to work on a two-sided attack whether it was Ben Smith, Israel Dagg, Beauden Barrett or Damian McKenzie,” he told the Herald.
“It’s having the skillset of the 15 to run the other side of the ruck and create running and kicking options that help defuse defences.
“There’s nothing new to what we’ve been trying to do in that space.”
Although he seemingly remains a fan of the playmaking partnership and clearly sees having Mo’unga at first-five and Barrett as his best combination, Foster revealed he was eager to give the latter more game time in his preferred position.
With only two games in the No. 10 jersey for the Blues during Super Rugby Aotearoa, though, Foster felt Barrett needed more time in the saddle before being thrust back into first-five role at test level.
“He was going to play 10 for the Blues but that didn’t quite work out so he came into our campaign with a very limited test window without having a lot of time at 10 under his belt,” Foster said.
“We are keen for him to play some rugby at 10 and we showed that in Brisbane where we felt the best way to give him time there was to play him there.”
Whether that means we will see more of Barrett playing at No. 10 for the All Blacks following his Top League sabbatical with Suntory Sungliath remains to be seen, but Foster is adamant the dual playmaking system is here to stay.
“I still want guys who can play both sides of the ruck,” he told the Herald. “Who that will be in those jerseys we’ll just have to wait and see.”
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