NZ's Barrett out of Bledisloe test against Australia

10 October 2020 - 15:16 By Reuters
New Zealand's Beauden Barrett scores one of his four tries during the Bledisloe Cup match against Australia at Eden Park, Auckland, New Zealand on August 25, 2018.
New Zealand's Beauden Barrett scores one of his four tries during the Bledisloe Cup match against Australia at Eden Park, Auckland, New Zealand on August 25, 2018.
Image: REUTERS/Ross Setford

All Blacks fullback Beauden Barrett has had to pull out of Sunday's Bledisloe Cup test against Australia with a tight Achilles' tendon, the team said.

Barrett was due to start at fullback for the match at Wellington Regional Stadium.

"Beaudy's Achilles flared up a little bit at training yesterday afternoon," coach Ian Foster told reporters on Saturday.

"It settled down overnight, not too bad and he's kicking out there now, but we made a decision, first test, to pull him out early.

"We just felt the way it tightened up and impacted on him yesterday, we didn't want to take that chance."

Barrett will be replaced by Damian McKenzie, who was not named in the 23-man matchday squad on Friday and has not played a test since late 2018, after a knee injury kept him off the field for most of last year.

Barrett's younger brother Jordie, who was arguably the form fullback in Super Rugby Aotearoa, will stay on the right wing to accommodate McKenzie's selection at fullback, where Foster will still have the dual playmaker option.

Foster and former coach Steve Hansen introduced the dual playmaker tactic in 2018 with Beauden Barrett at flyhalf and McKenzie playing fullback.

Richie Mo'unga's performances for the Canterbury Crusaders and McKenzie's knee injury, however, meant they used Barrett at fullback and Mo'unga at flyhalf last year and at the Rugby World Cup in Japan.

All Blacks captain Sam Cane said while they felt Barrett could have played, the team decided it was best to let him recover with the Rugby Championship still on the schedule.

"He knows it's the smart decision," Cane said.

"He could have played at a push but there's a fair bit of rugby ahead and we've got full confidence in Damian stepping up."

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