Jordie Barret left out of All Blacks RWC Opener

Jordie Barret left out of All Blacks RWC Opener

All Blacks midfielder Jordie Barrett has been ruled out of the Rugby World Cup opener against France, joining injured starters Tyrel Lomax, Brodie Retallick and Shannon Frizell on the sideline.

Barrett’s niggly knee prevented him from training this week with Anton Lienert-Brown named at 12 as his replacement, meanwhile, Nepo Laulala comes in for Lomax, Dalton Papali’i for Frizell and Scott Barrett and Sam Whitelock form the locking pair.

Meanwhile, winger Emoni Narawa has been ruled out of the tournament after injuring his back during training this week in Lyon. Scans revealed a disc issue which has ruled him out for the rest of the tournament. His replacement has yet to be announced.

There have also been some interesting selections on the bench for Saturday’s opener with no spot for Damian McKenzie in Ian Foster’s side on Saturday morning, with David Havili and Leicester Fianga’anuku selected at 22 and 23.

Codie Taylor, the first-choice hooker, earlier declared he had recovered from a hamstring issue and has sealed his spot back in the starting team and remodelled front row.

Lomax’s nasty laceration from a stray boot at Twickenham that required 30 stitches will sideline him for several weeks, necessitating the All Blacks’ need for a replacement tighthead prop.

The selectors opted for Laulala instead of Fletcher Newell, who has been named on the bench, for his noted scrummaging ability from the outset at the risk of sacrificing mobility. Against a vaunted French pack that loves to scrimmage, it would have been a bold call to throw Fletcher into the deep end at a heaving Stade de France.

“It is a privilege to play in the opening game of Rugby World Cup 2023,” said All Blacks head coach Ian Foster.

“What makes it extra special is playing the host nation who are a very proud and in-form team.

“World Cups are different. The initial goal is to qualify for the quarterfinals and to do that we must build our game through the pool stage. That starts in game one, where we have an opportunity to compete against one of the clear tournament favourites.”

All Blacks 23 v France

1. Ethan de Groot

2. Codie Taylor

3. Nepo Laulala

4. Scott Barrett

5. Samuel Whitelock

6. Dalton Papali’i

7. Sam Cane (c)

8. Ardie Savea

9. Aaron Smith

10. Richie Mo’unga

11. Mark Telea

12. Anton Lienert-Brown

13. Rieko Ioane

14. Will Jordan

15. Beauden Barrett


16. Samisoni Taukei’aho

17. Ofa Tu’ungafasi

18. Fletcher Newell

19. Tupou Vaa’i

20. Luke Jacobson

21. Finlay Christie

22. David Havili

23. Leicester Fainga’anuku.

France v All Blacks: Kickoff 7.15am, Saturday


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