Barrett out in All Blacks injury blow

Wellington (AFP) –


The All Blacks suffered a serious injury blow Saturday on the eve of the opening Bledisloe Cup Test against Australia in Wellington with fullback Beauden Barrett forced to withdraw with an Achilles tendon injury.

He has been replaced by Damian McKenzie, who was not in the original match-day 23.

All Blacks coach Ian Foster said Barrett's injury flared up during training on Friday and while it settled overnight it was decided not to risk playing him.

McKenzie, a utility who has started 15 of his 23 Tests at fullback, last played a Test two years ago against Italy.

Although Jordie Barrett, who will start on the wing against Australia, has been the standout fullback in New Zealand this year, Foster said it was logical to bring in McKenzie.

"He's a quality 15 and ready to go, and it means less disruption to the rest of the squad. All the other positions remain the same," Foster said.

New Zealand (15-1)

Damian McKenzie; Jordie Barrett, Rieko Ioane, Jack Goodhue, George Bridge; Richie Mounga, Aaron Smith; Ardie Savea, Sam Cane, Shannon Frizell; Sam Whitelock, Patrick Tuipulotu; Ofa Tu'ungafas, Codie Taylor, Joe Moody

Reserves: Dane Coles, Karl Tu'inukuafe, Nepo Laulala, Tupou Vaai, Hoskins Sotutu, TJ Perenara, Anton Lienert-Brown, Caleb Clarke