I’m starting with Beauden Barrett at #10 and Richie Mo’unga on the bench. Not that I have any say in the All Blacks run-on XV for the first Bledisloe Cup test this Sunday.
But one of the fun things about the return of international rugby is the chance, again, to have a gold old sectorial debate -something we haven’t done since the semi-final in Tokyo last year. (And doesn’t that seem like a lifetime ago, although not to any of the players & coaches still involved I would bet).
But back to Barrett. And that’s my point. I want Beauden to run this NZ side like he already has so successfully done. And forget all this rubbish about how “he hasn’t played there enough during Super Rugby Aotearoa”.
This is the two-time world player of the year we’re talking about. Anyone who thinks he’s forgotten how to play the pivot position is just wrong. It’s like saying Nadal can’t remember how to play on clay because he spends all year on hard courts.
Barrett is a proven class performer at the very highest level. And no it isn’t fair to compare his AB achievements with his current rival because Mo’unga has yet to do it at international level.
All indications are that he will get the opportunities and will also be excellent but Barrett IS excellent. Proven time and again.
The edge he provides is his incredible pace and game perception where he consistently creates individual moments that win test matches. Either way the selectors go I’ll support the decision 100%, such is the luxury of having two world class players for this most crucial position.
But refusing to sit in the fence, I have Beauden to start and Richie off the bench.