New Zealand have been dealt a blow on the eve of their Bledisloe Cup showdown with Australia after full-back Beauden Barrett was ruled out.
Blues star Barrett has an injured Achilles, which he sustained in training on Friday, and the All Blacks have decided not to risk one of their best players.
Damian McKenzie will instead come into the team and wear the number 15 shirt, New Zealand resisting the urge to move Jordie Barrett out to full-back.
“Beauden is out and Damian [McKenzie] is in at 15,” All Blacks head coach Ian Foster told the media at their captain’s run at Sky Stadium in Wellington.
“Beauden’s Achilles flared up a little bit at training yesterday afternoon. It settled down overnight, not too bad, he’s out there kicking now but we’ve made a decision first test to pull him out early.”
Foster added that he does not expect the injury to keep Barrett out of the second Bledisloe Cup game, which takes place at Eden Park next weekend.
“It certainly looks like that he’s out there kicking now and running around but the way it tightened up and impacted on him yesterday we don’t want to take that chance tomorrow.”
— All Blacks (@AllBlacks) October 10, 2020
On his decision to bring in McKenzie as a replacement for Barrett, Foster revealed that not making more changes than necessary played a part in the call.
“Because he’s a quality 15 ready to go,” he said. “It means less disruptions to the rest of the squad, all the other positions stay the same.”
New Zealand (revised): 15 Damian McKenzie, 14 Jordie Barrett, 13 Rieko Ioane, 12 Jack Goodhue, 11 George Bridge, 10 Richie Mo’unga, 9 Aaron Smith, 8 Ardie Savea, 7 Sam Cane (c), 6 Shannon Frizell, 5 Sam Whitelock, 4 Patrick Tuipulotu, 3 Ofa Tu’ungafasi, 2 Codie Taylor, 1 Joe Moody
Replacements: 16 Dane Coles, 17 Karl Tu’inukuafe, 18 Nepo Laulala, 19 Tupou Vaai, 20 Hoskins Sotutu, 21 TJ Perenara, 22 Anton Lienert-Brown, 23 Caleb Clarke
Date: Sunday, October 11
Venue: Sky Stadium, Wellington
Kick-off: 16:00 local (04:00 BST, 03:00 GMT)
Referee: Paul Williams (New Zealand)
Assistant referees: Ben O’Keeffe (New Zealand), Angus Gardner (Australia)
TMO: Mike Fraser (New Zealand)