Andrew Mehrtens says the All Blacks are taking a big risk by starting Jordie Barrett against the British & Irish Lions on Saturday.
The 20-year-old made his Test debut against Samoa off the bench three weeks ago. He was not included in the match 23 for the first two Tests, with Ben Smith and Israel Dagg selected at fullback respectively, but will wear the No 15 jersey in the series decider at Eden Park.
In his column for The Times of London, Mehrtens said he wouldn't have thrown Barrett into a situation like this.
'The selectors are ones to back people and go with their instincts, but I wouldn’t count on it. It might be too big an occasion for a kid who has never started before. That’s not to say it definitely will be, but the risk is pretty great, especially with the kicking game of the Lions and the defence they have got.
'Jordie has managed to find some space in Super Rugby, he has done well for the Hurricanes, but whether he would have the same ability in the international game at this stage, I don’t know. It’s a huge ask of the guy.'
The former All Blacks flyhalf said the Lions would look to put Barrett under early pressure.
'They certainly don’t want to give him a chance to get himself into the game and get some confidence. They will cut down his time and space.
'So, in response, the All Blacks will be considering: how will the Lions attack this guy and does he have the mentality to respond well? They will have concluded that he does.'
Photo: Phil Walter/Getty Images