“Beauden Barrett benched” – 5 Talking Points: Scott Robertson’s All Blacks Squad to face England in first test - Ruck

“Beauden Barrett benched” – 5 Talking Points: Scott Robertson’s All Blacks Squad to face England in first test

The first match day 23 of the Scott Robertson era has been named, with the All Blacks head coach unveiling his side to take on England this Saturday in Dunedin. The home of the Highlanders is set to encase a blockbuster battle, with the closed roof of Forsyth Barr Stadium set to be blown off by the first Test of the series. 

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After 13 months of waiting, the surfing coach known as Razor finally has his hands on the All Blacks. The former Crusaders head coach has progressed up from Super Rugby to the Test match stage, and is eager to get the first match of his tenure under his belt. 

Steve Borthwick named his England side two days before his Kiwi counterpart, with Robertson preferring for a traditional Thursday morning announcement. Despite having two extra days to assess and evaluate the selected England set-up, Robertson did not react to the squad set to ruin his launch party as head coach. 

“No, we’ve named ours internally on the Tuesday so no, wouldn’t react to that. And we thought there was going to be the team or close to it so we’re prepared for that.” 

With the battle lines drawn for the first of two Test matches, here are the five biggest talking points from Scott Robertson’s squad announcement, beginning with a blockbuster omission from the starting XV. 

  1. Beauden Barrett benched – Talisman left amongst substitutes for first England Test 

Fans of both England and the All Blacks would be immediately drawn to who is occupying New Zealand’s 23 jersey, as Beauden Barrett takes a seat amongst the replacements for the first Test. Whilst England fans would be delighted to see Barrett away from the fold for as long as possible, All Blacks fans may be asking questions on Robertson’s decision to name Blues fullback Stephan Perofeta at 15, as Chiefs playmaker Damian McKenzie takes the lead at fly half. 

SCOTT ROBERTSON: “Yeah, oh look, you can see potentially how you’ve got over 100 tests outside him (Damien McKenzie) at centre in the 12 (Jordie Barrett) and 13 (Reiko Ioane) so you can bounce it out. 

“Or maybe it’s time for him (Beauden Barrett) to come on at the end and help them out. But the thing is, because Beauden’s covering 10 and 12, I’ve got Anton (Lienert-Brown) who’s played a few tests as well. I think that experience, as I mentioned, that’s critical.” 

LONDON, ENGLAND – OCTOBER 24: Beauden Barrett of the New Zealand All Blacks scores his sides second try during the 2015 Rugby World Cup Semi Final match between South Africa and New Zealand at Twickenham Stadium on October 24, 2015 in London, United Kingdom. (Photo by Steve Bardens – World Rugby/World Rugby via Getty Images)

“He took it (being on the bench) like a true pro, whatever is required for this week. Like I said, he’s covering a couple of positions and you can slot in at any time so no, he was great.”

“A little bit, that (Barrett’s experience) was all considered. Obviously the experience of 120 Test matches counts for a lot, but also a guy whose inform (Perofeta) good around the high ball, playing great footy. Just two weeks ago was in the Test level game (Super Rugby Final) in a final. Beauden can play his part, covering 10 and 15.”