Barrett back as All Blacks make five changes

Sports

All Blacks coach Ian Foster has made five changes to his starting side for the second Bledisloe Cup Test in Auckland, two of which see Rieko Ioane and Codie Taylor demoted to the bench.

But star playmaker Beauden Barrett returns at fullback, having been a late scratching through injury last week. It is not, however, good news for lock Sam Whitelock who has been ruled out through concussion.

Ioane’s place in the starting side has been taken by Anton Lienert-Brown, while Caleb Clarke gets a start on the wing after George Bridge was injured at training. Bridge now faces six months on the sidelines with a chest injury.

Up front, Whitelock is replaced by another second-gamer in Tupou Vaa’i, while Scott Barrett has been included among the replacements after overcoming the foot injury that saw him sidelined for the entirety of Super Rugby Aotearoa.

“Our preparation this week has been really good,” Foster said. “It was our first Test together last weekend and while there were some aspects of our game that we were pretty excited about, especially around our set piece, we didn’t get the performance that we wanted, so there has been plenty for us to work on. We need to be smarter with our ball and more focused defensively.

“The Bledisloe series is back to square one and starts again this weekend, which is exciting. It’s the last Test at home for us so there will also be massive excitement amongst our fans. There is everything to play for and we can’t wait.”

NEW ZEALAND: Beauden Barrett, Jordie Barrett, Anton Lienert-Brown, Jack Goodhue, Caleb Clarke, Richie Mo’unga, Aaron Smith; Ardie Savea, Sam Cane (c), Shannon Frizell, Tupou Vaa’i, Patrick Tuipulotu, Ofa Tuungafasi, Dane Coles, Joe Moody.

Replacements: Codie Taylor, Alex Hodgman (debut), Nepo Laulala, Scott Barrett, Hoskins Sotutu, TJ Perenara, Rieko Ioane, Damian McKenzie.

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