All Blacks make sweeping line-up changes

Melissa Woods
·3-min read

The relentless All Blacks have replaced man of the match Richie Mo'unga with two-time world rugby player of the year Beauden Barrett as they press to complete an unbeaten Bledisloe Cup campaign in Brisbane on Saturday.

Despite locking away the coveted trans-Tasman trophy for an 18th straight year with a 43-5 thrashing in Sydney, New Zealand aren't planning to take their foot off the throat of the Wallabies.

While they have included four debutants in their match-day 23, with blindside flanker Akira Ioane joining his winger brother Rieko in the starting side at Suncorp Stadium, the All Blacks 'B team' still ooze class.

Even Wallabies coach Dave Rennie couldn't help but be impressed.

"I know the All Blacks have made a lot of changes but you look at that side and it's pretty impressive, isn't it," Rennie said.

Scoring two tries, Mo'unga played his best Test in Sydney but he and Aaron Smith have been given the weekend off with Barrett back at his preferred position of 10 to partner TJ Perenara.

Barrett has been a chief tormenter for the Wallabies, needing just one try to set a record for the most Bledisloe Cup five-pointers.

"I thought Richie was superb last week but it's a chance to freshen him up," New Zealand coach Ian Foster said on Thursday.

"Richie is a player who generally plays 80 minutes every week and sometimes we take that for granted so it's a chance for him to charge his batteries.

"We always said we were keen to give Beaudie an opportunity to go back into the 10 because he's obviously outstanding in that position and he deserves that right so it's a great way to kill two birds with one stone."

Barrett has been replaced at fullback by his youngest brother Jordie, who has shifted from the wing, with another brother Scott starting at lock.

Jordie similarly loves squaring up against the Wallabies, scoring a try in their past three Tests.

As well as Akira Ioane's long-awaited debut, after playing a New Zealand tour match back in 2017, hooker Asafo Aumua and exciting youngsters Cullen Grace and Will Jordan have been named on the bench in their first Test outings.

Foster said he wanted to give some different players an opportunity.

"We feel that there are some players who are really putting their hand up and deserve an opportunity," Foster said.

"It's been a big three-week Test series to date against Australia; it'll be another massive Test, so we've brought in some freshness and new energy into the group."

NZ: Jordie Barrett, Sevu Reece, Anton Lienert-Brown, Ngani Laumape, Rieko Ioane, Beauden Barrett, TJ Perenara, Ardie Savea, Sam Cane (capt), Akira Ioane, Samuel Whitelock, Scott Barrett, Ofa Tuungafasi, Codie Taylor, Karl Tu'inukuafe. Res: Asafo Aumua, Alex Hodgman, Tyrel Lomax, Patrick Tuipulotu, Cullen Grace, Brad Weber, Damian McKenzie, Will Jordan.