AAP Rugby

Barrett to play, Milner-Skudder out for NZ

By AAP Newswire

Beauden Barrett is a confirmed starter in a trimmed-down All Blacks team to face the Wallabies in Sydney.

Outside back Nehe Milner-Skudder and midfield back Sonny Bill Williams weren't on the plane out of Christchurch on Sunday as the travelling group was pruned to 32 players.

Williams was unavailable anyway with a shoulder injury while Milner-Skudder was regarded as an unlikely starter.

Of more interest was selector Grant Fox's confirmation that Barrett will wear No.10 in the Bledisloe Cup opener.

The form of Crusaders five-eighth Richie Mo'unga thrust him into the picture, even though he has just one reserves bench cap to his name.

Crusaders assistant coach Ronan O'Gara suggested the All Blacks consider shifting Barrett - whose Super Rugby campaign was mixed - to fullback to cater for Mo'unga.

Fox confirmed that won't happen, banking on the past Test deeds of two-time world player of the year Barrett.

"Beauden is the established 10 who has done nothing wrong in an All Blacks jersey, and we have done pretty well in the last little while with him steering the ship around," Fox told Radio Live on Sunday.

"Richie will get his opportunity - the o00nly way for him to get the experience that Beauden has is to be given a run at some stage."

Fox said Damian McKenzie was also part of the equation at five-eighth, having produced an exhilarating starting display in New Zealand's most recent outing, the third Test win over France in June.