Barrett moves to 15 as All Blacks bring in Crusaders star Mo’unga at 10
IN AN INTRIGUING pre-World Cup move, the All Blacks have named Crusaders star Richie Mo’unga to start at out-half for Saturday’s Rugby Championship clash with South Africa in Wellington [KO 8.35am Irish time], as Beauden Barrett shifts to fullback.
Barrett has been the All Blacks’ first-choice out-half since the last World Cup but nine-times capped Mo’unga’s stunning form in the Crusaders’ run of three consecutive Super Rugby titles has seen him pushing hard for selection in the 10 shirt.
Barrett and Mo’unga will start together against the Boks. Source: Photosport/Chris Symes/INPHO
All Blacks boss Steve Hansen has now decided to see how a playmaking pairing of Mo’unga and Barrett works, with the latter returning to the fullback slot he often occupied when first breaking through at Test level.
If the experiment works out, New Zealand could be an even stronger proposition at the upcoming World Cup.
Meanwhile, centre Sonny Bill Williams returns from injury for Saturday’s clash against the Springboks, as do seven other Crusaders players – who were rested for last weekend’s 20-16 win away to Argentina.
Ben Smith moves from fullback to the right wing, with Rieko Ioane coming in on the left and Jack Goodhue partnering Williams in midfield.
Aaron Smith rotates out of the team to give TJ Perenara a starting chance at scrum-half, while the all-Crusaders front row of Joe Moody, Codie Taylor and Owen Franks offers experience.
Lock pairing Brodie Retallick and Sam Whitelock will provide grunt and guile against the Boks, while Highlanders flanker Shannon Frizell gets a big opportunity on the blindside, Matt Todd comes in at openside and captain Kieran Read returns at number eight.
The All Blacks will be out for revenge on Saturday, having lost to the Boks in Wellington last year, the South Africans’ first win on Kiwi soil since 2009.
New Zealand (v South Africa):
15. Beauden Barrett
14. Ben Smith
13. Jack Goodhue
12. Sonny Bill Williams
11. Rieko Ioane
10. Richie Mo’unga
9. TJ Perenara
1. Joe Moody
2. Codie Taylor
3. Owen Franks
4. Brodie Retallick
5. Sam Whitelock
6. Shannon Frizell
7. Matt Todd
8. Kieran Read
16. Dane Coles
17. Ofa Tuungafasi
18. Angus Ta’avao
19. Vaea Fifita
20. Dalton Papalii
21. Aaron Smith
22. Anton Lienert-Brown
23. George Bridge
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