Eyebrows may be raised when the All Blacks unveil their team to play Canada next week. Widespread changes from the side that put away the Springboks are inevitable but one in particular - who wears the No 10 jersey - may spark tongues wagging.

With two matches to come in four days – the other against Namibia – the All Blacks are essentially preparing for two games at once. And after selecting two first five-eighths in their World Cup squad, the All Blacks always knew they would need to experiment during this period to manage the workloads of Richie Mo'unga and Beauden Barrett.

There seems no point risking those dual playmakers by asking them to feature in the next two games on such a short turnaround.

Jordie Barrett may, therefore, start at first-five against Canada, or at least spend considerable time there.


The Hurricanes utility is comfortable at fullback, wing and midfield but, two years ago he played half the drawn match against the British and Irish Lions from first-five. His booming punt and long-range goal kicking could be handy assets for a match the All Blacks are expected to win at a canter.

Hurricanes halfback TJ Perenara is another candidate to shift out one spot but the All Blacks may prefer to hand him a start in his accustomed role.

Crusaders midfielder Ryan Crotty is the third option to play 10 but he started against the Boks, and may be needed to cover Sonny Bill Williams and Jack Goodhue who are expected to be paired in the midfield next week.

All Blacks assistant coach Ian Foster stopped short of saying who will start at No 10 against Canada but did strongly hint it would not be Mo'unga or Beauden Barrett.

"At a tournament you always have to compromise at some point with a squad of 31. Clearly that was an area we decided to compromise and to leave someone like Josh [Ioane] at home but we're really satisfied with the people we've got there so we'll let you know.

"We've got a clear idea. We've got a number of options that are available to us. We have the ability to play both our 10s in each of the two games and have other people to cover."

Jordie Barrett could start a 2019 World Cup game at No 10 before his brother Beauden. Photo / Getty
Jordie Barrett could start a 2019 World Cup game at No 10 before his brother Beauden. Photo / Getty

The All Blacks plan to use their full squad in these next two matches and again plan to target specific aspects of their game.

Four years ago the All Blacks appeared to muddle their way through pool play with a series of unconvincing performances.


As anxiety grew outside the team, Steve Hansen gathered the travelling media pack to explain that the All Blacks were holding aspects back and deliberately challenging themselves in certain areas.

Just as they have done earlier this week, they also endured heavy conditioning sessions which allowed them to then taper and refresh for the quarter-final.

This blueprint, it seems, is again being adopted.

"I learnt not to listen to criticism and to believe in the plan," Foster said of this same period four years ago. "Not every plan goes the way you want it to go but you don't win this tournament by winning all your pool games, you win it by qualifying for the knockouts and having your game at a point where you are confident to go and win three games after that.

"We're not here to try and win everyone's approval in a pool we're here to grow our game, get the results we need and be satisfied and battle hardened for hopefully a playoff game. That's our sole goal.

"We're trying to be really specific about what we're trying to achieve. It's not a matter of hiding stuff or going through plan C, D and E it's a matter of doing what we do and trying to execute it at a really high level and then maybe changing some of the options we take in certain areas.


"I don't think you go into a game and tell the boys not to do something but we have certainly gone into the game with some structures that will probably look at changing some of the decision we make within them.

"There's a couple of things that I won't share with you that we really need to improve and sharpen up for what's yet to come.

"You have to use these occasions, one to win and to grow the confidence of what we're trying to achieve."

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