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Barrett named at flyhalf for 100th test against Wales

Barrett named at flyhalf for 100th test against Wales

FILE PHOTO: Rugby Union - Rugby Union - Rugby World Cup 2019 - Quarter Final - New Zealand v Ireland - Tokyo Stadium, Tokyo, Japan - October 19, 2019 New Zealand's Beauden Barrett celebrates scoring their third try REUTERS/Issei Kato//File Photo

Flyhalf Beauden Barrett has taken back the New Zealand starting number 10 jersey for his 100th test against Wales on Saturday in a fitting tribute for the twice World Player of the Year.

Barrett, who has been battling Richie Mo'unga to play in his favourite position, deserved the chance to celebrate his milestone match in front of a sell-out crowd at Millennium Stadium, All Blacks coach Ian Foster said.

"He's playing well," Foster told reporters.

"He's been running this team for the past couple of months so we felt he deserved the opportunity. Clearly it's his 100th test.

"He's in a really good place to go and celebrate that with a game that means a lot to him. It's a big occasion and he's on top of his game so we're delighted with that selection."

Once a fixture at 10, the 30-year-old has had to fight tooth and nail for his chances due to the rise of the brilliant Mo'unga in recent years.

Barrett was shifted to fullback during their 2019 World Cup title defence under Steve Hansen but the dual playmaker ploy fell flat, with the All Blacks bowing out in the semi-finals.

He has been reduced to a bench role for large parts of the past two seasons, a humbling demotion for a player who would be first pick in virtually any other international team.

Yet through it all Barrett has shown nothing but class and never missed the chance to praise Mo'unga in public for providing him with the spur to keep pushing.

"He's a quality person," Foster said.

"The thing I love about him is he prepares the team first and then himself. He's very selfless."

Canterbury Crusader Mo'unga, who missed most of the Rugby Championship for the birth of his second child, was back directing traffic in the All Blacks' 104-14 hammering of the United States in Washington last week.

But he will run off the bench on Saturday as the Sam Whitelock-captained All Blacks look to avoid a first defeat to Wales since 1953.

Barrett will have his brother Jordie starting at fullback on his special day but his other brother Scott, the All Blacks lock, stayed home in New Zealand to await the birth of his baby.

After resting players for the United States test, Foster has brought back most of his big guns, recalling lock Brodie Retallick and naming a powerful front row of Joe Moody, Codie Taylor and Nepo Laulala.

Ardie Savea is back at number eight, while scrumhalf TJ Perenara and centres David Havili and Anton Lienert-Brown have also been recalled.

Team: 15-Jordie Barrett, 14-Will Jordan, 13-Anton Lienert-Brown, 12-David Havili, 11-Rieko Ioane, 10-Beauden Barrett, 9-TJ Perenara, 8-Ardie Savea, 7-Dalton Papalii, 6-Ethan Blackadder, 5-Sam Whitelock (capt), 4-Brodie Retallick, 3-Nepo Laulala, 2-Codie Taylor, 1-Joe Moody

Replacements: 16-Samisoni Taukei'aho, 17-Karl Tu'inukuafe, 18-Tyrel Lomax, 19-Tupou Vaa'i, 20-Akira Ioane, 21-Brad Weber, 22-Richie Mo'unga, 23-Sevu Reece.

(Reporting by Ian Ransom; Editing by Peter Rutherford)

Source: Reuters

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