Could another key All Black switch positions ahead of the Rugby World Cup?

Could another key All Black switch positions ahead of the Rugby World Cup?

The injury to Damian McKenzie, ruling him out of the Rugby World Cup in Japan, has forced Steve Hansen's hand in selecting Beauden Barrett at fullback while also giving Richie Mo'unga the 10 jersey.


The experiment produced mixed results against the Springboks in the drawn result in Wellington and could turn out to be a stellar combination for the All Blacks going forward.

Moving players out of their primary position is far from ideal at test level but it can produce positive results, Pieter-Steph du Toit is a prime of example of it paying off.

Hansen could take another gamble as the World Cup approaches with regular blindside flanker Liam Squire not yet ready to return to the test arena.

The All Blacks are still yet to successfully fill the void left by Jerome Kaino in the #6 jersey with Squire struggling with injuries while Shannon Frizell and Vaea Fifita haven't truly stamped their mark on the jersey.

This could lead the All Black selectors to pick captain Kieran Read in the #6 jersey. Read has all the positional requirements to fill the All Black six jumper and with Sam Cane, Ardie Savea and Matt Todd all in excellent form it could help the All Blacks field more of their in-form players at the same time.

In the case that Hansen does opt to move Read to the side of the scrum, Sam Cane is likely to start in the #7 jumper with Savea filling the #8 jersey. Savea is no stranger to the role at the back of the scrum as he regularly plays at no.8 for both the Hurricanes and All Blacks.

Although Read has featured at no.8 for most of his career, he has started a handful of games on the side of the scrum, particularly at the start of his test career and has on occasion moved into the second row and blindside in the latter stages of games. 

Steve Hansen has stated that he is keen to test Cane and Savea in starting roles but wouldn't play either as a blindside flanker while Scott Barrett has also been viewed a potential option in the #6 jersey. However, with Brodie Retallick sidelined Barrett is likely to slot into the middle of the pack with fellow Crusader Sam Whitelock.

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