Lions tour: Jordie Barrett gets All Blacks' full backing for Test decider

  • 06/07/2017
Jordie Barrett Beauden Barrett Scott Barrett
Jordie Barrett during anthem in arms of brothers Scott (left) and Beauden (right) Photo credit: Getty

Steve Hansen's put his full weight behind rookie Jordie Barrett ahead of the decider in Auckland on Saturday.

The inexperienced fullback has been picked to start alongside Israel Dagg and Julian Savea despite just playing in one Test match, the 78-0 pre Lions series rout of Samoa.

Hansen said he wouldn't be there if they didn't think him capable of doing a good job.

"We wouldn't have picked him in the first place if we didn't [think he'd do a good job], he comes from a fairly good stock, and I'm picking him to go alright," said Hansen.

"He's a very skilful rugby player, no doubt about that."

It could be seen as a risky call from Hansen with Barrett likely to endure an aerial bombardment from the Lions' dual playmakers in Owen Farrell and Johnny Sexton.

With Ben Smith not risked following a concussion injury as well as second Test starters Rieko Ioane and Waisake Naholo both ruled out due to injury, Hansen's hand was forced.

Instead of the predicted switch of Dagg retaining his fullback spot and specialist wingers brought in, Hansen said the Lions would hold no fear for Barrett who's already played the Lions in their draw with the Hurricanes last week.

"He played well enough for the Hurricanes against the Lions, we're excited.

"He's very good aerially and they're going to give us plenty of high balls to catch, he's a good defender.

Playing just 14 Super Rugby matches for the Hurricanes as well as 12 Mitre 10 Cup appearances for Canterbury, it's been a meteoric rise for Barrett, who was named in the New Zealand U20s before the World Cup back in May, before he was kept home due to Super Rugby and potential All Black duties.

Hansen couldn't contain his excitement about the youngster.

"He's a young man who, whatever he does on Saturday, is just the beginning.

"He's just going to get better and better, he's still under 20. He wouldn't be put in the position if we didn't trust him and we do and we're sure that after the game he'll put in a performance in that he'll be proud of."