Rugby World Cup: All Blacks midfielder Jordie Barrett doubtful for tournament opener against France

With their opening game of the Rugby World Cup just four days away, the All Blacks are sweating on the fitness of another key player.

Second-five Jordie Barrett is nursing a knee injury and has sat out the team’s first two field session at Lyon, leaving him at serious risk of missing the All Blacks' opening World Cup game against France. 

It would be a dagger for the All Blacks to lose Barrett, 26, this close to their opening game, with the midfielder one of their best during 2023, after forming a lethal pairing with Rieko Ioane. 

Jordie Barrett in action for the All Blacks.
Jordie Barrett in action for the All Blacks. Photo credit: Getty Images

"He's got a niggle in his left knee, we're just taking precautions really," said assistant coach Scott McLeod. 

When asked if he's in danger of being ruled out of their World Cup opener against France, McLeod responded: "It's a wait and see.

"It’s early in the week, so we'll wait and see today and tomorrow how he responds to treatment."

The All Blacks are already without starting lock Brodie Retallick, flanker Shannon Frizell and tighthead prop Tyrel Lomax for Saturday morning’s (NZ time) clash with France. Adding a fourth name to that list is the last thing the All Blacks need.

"He has been really important to our play, but we trust our whole squad and we're going to have to in this World Cup," McLeod said. "If that happens, we trust anyone that fills that jersey." 

If Barrett is ruled out, Anton Lienert-Brown would likely come into the starting side, alongside Ioane in the midfield, while David Havili is the other option.

"Things like this can happen," said Havili. "Injuries can come out of nowhere, so it's a full team thing.

"When you're called upon, you're ready to go."

Havili is unlikely to get the nod, after missing the All Blacks campaign this year and with only 40 minutes of rugby under his belt, since returning from a hamstring injury.

The All Blacks have just two more training sessions before their clash with France, leaving Barrett in a race against time to prove his fitness.

"Our whole squad prepares to play, right up until warm-up on gameday," said McLeod. "Everyone is prepared to play."

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