Beauden Barrett All Blacks v Wales: Is the Beauden Barrett and Richie Mou’nga show still a goer?

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Beauden Barrett Beauden Barrett (L) and Richie Mo'unga have been the All Blacks' preferred dual playmakers in 2019.

Mark Baker

Beauden Barrett (L) and Richie Mo’unga have been the All Blacks’ preferred dual playmakers in 2019.

ANALYSIS:The next All Blacks coach may have to re-visit the dilemma of where best to use the brilliance of Beauden Barrett.

If the coach is Ian Foster, he may decide to persist with Barrett – two-time World Rugby player of the year as a first five-eighth – in the fullback role.

But, there is no guarantee – after the All Blacks’ 19-7 Rugby World Cup semifinal defeat to England – Foster will automatically ascend to the top job when Steve Hansen steps down.

Any new coach will bring some frisson to the selection process. No-one’s place will be guaranteed.

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Hansen was a latent convert to the Barrett-at-the-back fan club, moving the Taranaki star to the No 15 jumper in Rugby World Cup year to accommodate Richie Mo’unga at first five-eighth.

Some saw the move as a masterstroke – and it certainly seemed that way as the All Blacks clocked up big scores in World Cup pool games, romping to a quarterfinal victory over Ireland.

There was also a hint of pragmatism about Barrett’s positional switch.

Damian McKenzie was a chance to be the All Blacks’ first-choice fullback for the 2019 Rugby World Cup tournament, until he tore knee ligaments during the Super Rugby season.

Beauden Barrett Beauden Barrett and Richie Mo'unga have been working hard on their combination at All Blacks training.

Hannah Peters

Beauden Barrett and Richie Mo’unga have been working hard on their combination at All Blacks training.

McKenzie, initially a test utility who had covered first five-eighth, fullback and wing, has played 15 of his 23 tests in the No 15 jersey.

By 2018, Hansen was firmly wedded to a “two play-maker” system, settling for Barrett at first five with McKenzie at fullback, with both alternating as first receiver.

In the early part of the 2018 test season, Hansen, experimented with a Barrett brothers duo – Jordie at fullback and Beauden at No 10.

But McKenzie – who has also played a lot of rugby at first five –  started at fullback for the Bledisloe Cup test in Japan in October 2018.

He forged a fine understanding with Beauden Barrett in an impressive 37-20 win. The next major tests were tougher assignments – with the All Blacks edging England 16-15 before losing 16-9 to Ireland.

Hansen may well have stuck to the Barrett-McKenzie axis this year had the Chiefs star not succumbed to injury, although Mo’unga was making a confident claim for more test starts after driving the Crusaders to a third consecutive Super Rugby title.

Beauden Barrett All Blacks assistant-coach Ian Foster with Beauden Barrett.

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All Blacks assistant-coach Ian Foster with Beauden Barrett.

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