A group of microphones and cameras greeted him expectantly, and Foster gave him a decent shock.
“Beaudy is out and Damian is in at 15,” the coach swayed a little more than 24 hours after the first test against the Wallabies in Wellington.
Beauden Barrett, who was named full-back on Friday, suffered a tight Achilles tendon during training and was disfellowshipped on Saturday. Damian McKenzie slipped straight into the # 15 jersey after missing the original 23 on the 2020 first test.
For the elusive Waikato and Chiefs full-back, it’s his first test since November 2018, when he started against Italy 66-3 in Rome. Jordie Barrett on the right wing as on Sunday (4pm).
“He’s a good 15 and ready to go and it means less disruption for the rest of the squad. All other positions remain the same, ”said Foster.
The All Blacks are losing a hugely influential figure, Barrett is a Former World Player of the Year, but McKenzie will pose an equal attack threat to the Wallabies if given space.
With the second Bledisloe in Auckland next Sunday, Foster expected Beauden Barrett to be available and assessed it as a minor injury.
“Beaudy’s Achilles flared up a bit during training yesterday [Friday] Afternoon. It settled down overnight, not bad, and he’s stepping out there now, but we decided to pull him out early for the first time.
“It definitely looks like it [a one-game injury]. He’s kicking and running around now, but we just felt how it worsened and affected him yesterday. We didn’t want to take this opportunity tomorrow. ”
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Foster raised some eyebrows on Friday by naming Jordie Barrett in the same breath on the right wing and calling him the country’s “form fullback” after a memorable super rugby campaign for the Hurricanes.
The team was informed of the 23rd matchday on Tuesday and trained that way all week, hence the decision to leave the younger Barrett at 14. McKenzie also takes on the role of doubles playmaker to replace Richie Mo’unga, though Foster said the top five on Friday-eight remained in the works for McKenzie and Jordie Barrett.
Another viable option would have been to switch Jordie Barrett to full-back and restore Sevu Reece to 14, with the Crusaders wing having another unlucky person who missed 23.
But McKenzie, who missed the Rugby World Cup due to an injury and didn’t take a test last year, had the team’s support. “He [Barrett] could have played at the push of a button, but there is a good deal of rugby ahead of me and I have full confidence in Damian, “said the new captain Sam Cane.
McKenzie, 25, has 23 tests to his name and scored 12 attempts.
This article was originally published by stuff.co.nz and is reproduced with permission