Bledisloe Cup 2020: Beauden Barrett scratched from All Blacks opener against Australia

Fullback Beauden Barrett has withdrawn from the All Blacks' Bledisloe Cup opener against Australia on Sunday with an Achilles injury.

Named in the No.15 jersey for the series opener in Wellington, Barrett has been replaced by Damian McKenzie at the back, leaving young brother Jordie on the wing.

Barrett, who won two World Player of the Year crowns as a first-five, spent most of last year's Rugby World Cup campaign at the back, with Richie Mo'unga wearing his preferred No.10 jersey.

New All Blacks coach Ian Foster had hinted he would stick with the 'dual playmakers' format, but wasn't sold on Barrett at the back, with so many other options available. 

With the veteran scratched, due to a tight Achilles tendon, Foster has opted to introduce McKenzie, who missed the World Cup with injury, from outside the game-day squad, instead of further disrupting the line-up named on Friday. 

"Beaudie's Achilles flared up a little bit at training yesterday afternoon," says Foster. "It settled down overnight, not too bad and he's kicking out there now, but we made a decision for the first test to pull him out early."

Foster considers the niggle a short-term issue and Barrett's withdrawal is merely a precaution.

"He's kicking now and running around, but we just felt, the way it tightened up and impacted on him yesteday, we'd take no chances."

Bledisloe Cup 2020: Beauden Barrett scratched from All Blacks opener against Australia

"[McKenzie] is a quality 15 and he's ready to go, and this way, there's less disruption to the rest of the squad, with all the other positions staying the same."

New captain Sam Cane echoed his coach's caution.

"It's disappointing for Beaudie, but he knows it's the smart decision," he says. "He probably could have played at a push, but there's a fair bit of rugby ahead and we have full confidence in Damian to step up."

Join us at 4pm Sunday for live updates of the All Blacks v Australia Bledisloe Cup opener