3 Barrett brothers named by All Blacks to meet France
Beauden, Jordie and Scott Barrett will become the first trio of brothers to start a test together for the All Blacks when they line up in the series-opener against France at Auckland’s Eden Park on Saturday.
Beauden will take his regular place at flyhalf, Scott will replace the injured Brodie Retallick at lock and Jordie will play his third test at fullback in a backline reorganized because of injuries.
Jordie’s chance comes with the selectors’ unexpected decision to move Ben Smith from fullback to the right wing in place of Waisake Naholo.
Ryan Crotty and Anton Lienert-Brown will combine in midfield in a partnership dictated by the absence through injury of Sonny Bill Williams.
The forward pack also includes a pair of brothers. Sam Whitelock will captain the team for the second time from lock and Luke Whitelock will make his third test appearance at No. 8 in place of regular skipper Kieran Read, who is recovering from back surgery.
Liam Squire will play on the blindside flank and Sam Cane, despite injury concerns, has been selected on the openside in one of the least experienced All Blacks back-rows in recent years.
Uncapped prop Karl Tu’inukuafe has been included in the reserves, marking a spectacular rise for a player in his first season of Super Rugby.
Tu’inukuafe was only called up by the Hamilton-based Chiefs after injuries to front-rowers. He considered giving up rugby four years ago when he weighed 170 kilograms (375 pounds) and he was ordered by a doctor to lose weight.
”He has had a couple of breaks probably when you think about what has happened at the Chiefs with their front-rowers, but he has come in and done the job for them,” New Zealand coach Steve Hansen said. ”The Chiefs are the No. 1 scrummaging side in Super Rugby and Karl is a big part of that, so he became an obvious selection when we got down to it.
”It has been a spectacular rise for Karl but his selection is well deserved.”
Jordie Barrett’s selection comes only days after he made national headlines for his behavior off the field. Police were called when Barrett and a friend were found eating hamburgers in the living room of a stranger’s home in Dunedin at 5 a.m. Sunday.
The incident occurred after Barrett’s Hurricanes Super Rugby team played the Highlanders in Dunedin. Police accepted Barrett’s explanation he entered the house in the mistaken belief it belonged to a friend.
Injuries have given the team a makeshift look in some places and Hansen said the All Blacks would try to play a simple game.
”While rugby is a complicated game, we’ve worked hard at simplifying those complexities this week so that we can go out and play with real confidence, high energy and genuine intent,” he said.
Scrumhalf Morgan Parra and fullback Maxime Medard have been recalled by France after lengthy absences. Parra last played in France’s 62-13 loss to the All Blacks in the quarterfinals of the 2015 Rugby World Cup, while fullback Medard hasn’t played since France’s 2016 tour to Argentina.
New Zealand-born prop Uini Atonio will start at tighthead, and Fabien Sanconnie has been named at No 8 after Louis Picamoles was forced to miss the three-test series with injury.
New Zealand: Jordie Barrett, Ben Smith, Anton Lienert-Brown, Ryan Crotty, Rieko Ioane, Beauden Barrett, Aaron Smith; Luke Whitelock, Sam Cane, Liam Squire, Scott Barrett, Sam Whitelock (captain), Owen Franks, Codie Taylor, Joe Moody. Reserves: Nathan Harris, Karl Tu’inukuafe, Ofa Tuungafasi, Vaea Fifita, Ardie Savea, T.J. Perenara, Damian McKenzie, Ngani Laumape.
France: Maxime Medard, Teddy Thomas, Mathieu Bastareaud (captain), Geoffrey Doumayrou, Remy Grosso, Anthony Belleau, Morgan Parra; Kevin Gourdon, Fabien Sanconnie, Judicael Cancoriet, Yoann Maestri, Paul Gabrillagues, Uini Atonio, Camille Chat, Dany Priso. Reserves: Adrien Pelissie, Cyril Baille, Rabah Slimani, Bernard Le Roux, Alexandre Lapandry, Baptiste Serin, Jules Plisson, Gael Fickou.