All Blacks coach Steve Hansen has reiterated his support for playmaker Beauden Barrett.
All Blacks coach Steve Hansen has reiterated his support for playmaker Beauden Barrett.

Hansen confirms Barrett for Bledisloe opener

RICHIE Mo'unga's form won't be enough to stop Beauden Barrett from wearing the All Blacks five-eighth jersey against the Wallabies.

Deafened by a growing clamour for Super Rugby star Mo'unga to wear No.10 in this month's twin Bledisloe Cup Tests, coach Steve Hansen has delivered a reality check.

While Hansen was impressed by the 24-year-old's brilliant performances for the champion Crusaders, he won't go past two-time world player of the year Barrett in Sydney on August 18.

Barrett's form was steady in the June series whitewash of France and modest over the closing weeks for the sub-par Hurricanes.

Hansen has pointed out that Mo'unga played behind a dominant Crusaders pack.

"We have to build slowly with Richie and build his experience but in the meantime we have got a player in Beauden who has been the best player in the world for the last two years. We won't be in any rush to shift him," Hansen said.

Player of the Super Rugby final Richie Mo'unga lifts the trophy.
Player of the Super Rugby final Richie Mo'unga lifts the trophy.

Mo'unga isn't even likely to be the back-up to 64-Test veteran Barrett in Sydney.

Hansen is likely to persist with Damian McKenzie for the bench role, with versatile Chiefs flyer McKenzie also a prime contender to enter late as a game-busting fullback.

McKenzie was brilliant when handed his first start at five-eighth in the third Test against France six weeks ago.

Mo'unga made his Test debut late in that Dunedin Test.


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