Beauden Barrett Rugby Championship: ‘World-class’ Richie Mo’unga gets Steve Hansen’s tick of approval to ignite All Blacks attack

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All Blacks coach Steve Hansen has admitted he and his fellow selectors have been thinking about the Richie Mo’unga and Beauden Barrett dual playmaking combination for “quite a while” and that now, with four tests remaining until the World Cup, is the time to try it.

“We’ve got a plan for a whole lot of things we want to do before the nitty gritty business and we just felt Saturday’s game is the right time to try that particular part of the plan,” Hansen said ahead of the test against the Springboks in Wellington, a potentially difficult match likely to cast a light on a whole lot of his players.

“Obviously to replace Beauden at first-five you’ve got to have someone who’s pretty good and Richie has been playing very well for the last couple of years and at some point you want all of your best players on the park. Both of them are world-class players.”

Mo’unga’s start at first-five – just his third in what will be his 10th test – coincides with the return of six Crusaders to the pack, a combination that Hansen hopes will mitigate against a return to the rustiness of last weekend’s narrow victory over the Pumas in Buenos Aires.

The 25-year-old Mo’unga was aga

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