New All Blacks coach Ian Foster is already considering what he will do to solve the riddle of fitting Richie Mo’unga and Beauden Barrett into the same starting XV.
The pair operated in a dual-playmaking function – with Mo’unga at flyhalf and Barrett shifted to 15 – with many deeming the experiment a failure as England stunned the Kiwis in the semi-finals of the World Cup.
Foster, who served for eight years under Steve Hansen, is keeping his options open by hinting at change for his time in charge while also refusing to label the tandem a failure. Instead, he praised the pair’s work leading up to the final four clash in Japan.
‘There will be a lot of people who will laugh at that because we lost a semifinal, but the reality is we largely got two really good decision-makers heavily involved in the game making decisions,’ said Foster.
‘Is that the reason we lost a semi? I don’t think so. But certainly there were some decisions that came under pressure we didn’t make very well. I can’t ignore that, so we’ve got to go back and have a rethink.’
Between now and the inbound tour against Wales and Scotland in July, Foster will be considering his plan of attack with a number of players – most notably Damian McKenzie, George Bridge and Jordie Barrett – coming into the mix for the No 15 jersey.
‘I love both as rugby players. When you look at games where we played both, Beaudy would have had as many, if not more, touches than Richie. When we played Beaudy at 15 we were still able to engage him heavily in what we wanted him do.
‘That required some tweaks in how we played. But it’s a new year, and we don’t need players sitting still thinking we’ve got a formula that’s going to work. We’ve got Damian [McKenzie] coming back from injury and growth in the likes of George Bridge and Jordie Barrett.
‘No doubt [fullback] is going to be a tough area to pick.’
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