Lions tour: Beauden Barrett happy to play fullback against British and Irish Lions if asked

  • 25/06/2017

Like interchangeable pieces of a giant jigsaw, the All Blacks can move their players around the park and still stick to a game plan, star playmaker Beauden Barrett insists.

The early injury departures of Ben Smith and Ryan Crotty almost twisted the All Blacks into knots in their 30-15 first-Test win over the British and Irish Lions.

Incumbent first-five Barrett was moved back to fullback, where he played with aplomb, while Aaron Cruden entered for the concussed Smith.

Anton Lienert-Brown then came on at centre for the hamstrung Crotty - leaving no backline bench cover, bar reserve halfback TJ Perenara.

The 26-year-old Barrett told reporters he and Cruden had different attributes, but both had the skill sets to guide the All Blacks around the park.

He was happy to remain at fullback if asked.

The same went for the rest of the squad, who could fill in wherever required.

"He can do things I can't, and maybe I can do things he can't," Barrett said.

"We play to our strengths.

"But, overall, we have a game plan as a team and play to that."

Barrett was flawless from the tee at Eden Park, nailing three penalty goals and three conversions, and producing 10 kicks from deep.

But the All Blacks' star man found his capacity to influence the game hindered further back at No.15, despite a near error-free performance.

That was mostly down to the world champions' tactics, neutralising the Lions' line speed by instead playing through halfback Aaron Smith.

Barrett said the side would need to be even better next week in Wellington, where a win will wrap up the three-Test series early.

"They had us under pressure early (and) it wasn't a surprise, but in terms of speed and physicality, it was right up there," the Hurricanes pivot said.

"You have to adjust - you can only assume what they're going to bring each week and it's about how we adapt on the run.

"Who's to say they won't change a thing?"