Ben Smith All Blacks select playmakers Beauden Barrett, Richie Mo’unga for opener against South Africa

Ben Smith All Blacks select playmakers Beauden Barrett, Richie Mo’unga for opener against South Africa

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Defending champion New Zealand has stuck with a dual playmaker model, selecting Richie Mo’unga at flyhalf and Beauden Barrett at fullback for their Rugby World Cup opener against South Africa on Saturday.

Barrett’s selection and the retention of young wingers Sevu Reece and George Bridge means there is no place in the starting lineup for backline veteran Ben Smith who was included on the bench alongside center Sonny Bill Williams.

Ryan Crotty will return from injury at inside center in a midfield partnership with Anton-Lienert Brown.

Scott Barrett returns from suspension and will combine with Sam Whitelock in the second row, pushing Patrick Tuipulotu to the bench. Dane Coles will start at hooker ahead of Codie Taylor.

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