No All Blacks start for Sopoaga despite Barrett's goalkicking woes

10 September 2017 12:40 AM

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The All Blacks have categorically ruled out shuffling their decks to include metronomic goalkicker Lima Sopoaga in the starting XV for next weekend's Rugby Championship showdown with South Africa.

Star fly-half Beauden Barrett had a tough night at the office on Saturday, missing three sideline conversions from three in the side's 39-22 win over Argentina. Sopoaga later emerged from the bench to nail three conversions, as well as a penalty goal, to put the New Plymouth Test to bed.

Nevertheless, All Blacks boss Steve Hansen said he wouldn't move the versatile Barrett to fullback to accommodate Sopoaga at five-eighth.

"We won a Test match in Dunedin (against Australia) on goalkicking. Do we want to put both of them in at the same time? Not to start, we won't, no," Hansen said. "But having them both on the field at the end of the game is a possibility.

"Look, when Barrett kicks well, he kicks everything. When he doesn't, he misses two or three, and that's the process - do you know when he's going to kick the lot? I don't, I've got no idea. We've just got to work our way through."

Damian McKenzie is also a goalkicking option. Assistant coach Ian Foster, who works with Barrett on his goalkicking, said the Hurricanes-based playmaker needed more time in the saddle. He insisted that Barrett was slowly improving.

"It's just been a bit of a pattern - when there's an off night, there's an off night. He'll know what went wrong," Foster said post-match.


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