Jordie Barrett is one of three survivors from New Zealand’s 63-0 win over Canada to be selected to face Namibia in their Pool B clash on Sunday.
However, head coach Steve Hansen has decided to reshuffle the younger Barrett brother and he is set to make his first career start at fly-half, becoming the 14th player to play for New Zealand in the No.10 shirt at a World Cup.
The utility back held a very brief discussion with Hansen on Friday when he was informed of the move and despite his lack of Test experience in the role, a smile and a nod was all the head coach needed to confirm the decision.
“I found out I was playing 10 this morning (Friday). I’ve got bounced in and out of positions at training a little, not knowing I was going to play 10. But I do feel well prepared. I think the beauty about the 10 day (break) before this (and the Canada) game has been the time to read up and understand our structures and gameplans.
“I’ve played 10 a few times covering for the Canes (Hurricanes) this year and in previous years before that. I also played at 10 for Uni.”
“Within our gameplan, the 15 often performs a 10 role in our phase play. So it’s more just set-piece and little things, timings I’ll have to equip myself with over the next 48 hours so I can perform them on Sunday.”
Hansen was quick to justify his selection following the team announcement on Friday afternoon. The 60-year-old believes that Barrett’s skill set and confidence are suited to that of an out-half.
“One, he has played there before at a lower level. Two, he has got the skills set, we believe, to be able to run the game. And (he has) the confidence and skills to be able to execute as well as run it. We’re reasonably confident he will be fine.
“He has plenty of swagger. He’s not short of it. I don’t think you can mistake swagger or confidence with arrogance. He’s not an arrogant boy. He’s a humble kid. He will be looking forward to it. He will get out there and boss the team.”
Meanwhile, Brodie Retallick makes his return to the New Zealand starting XV and once again links up with Sam Whitelock, who captains the side, in the second row.
The 28-year-old lock suffered a dislocated shoulder against South Africa in July and subsequent nerve damage.
Hansen is delighted to have Retallick back in the team two weeks earlier than planned.
“It’s pretty exciting.
“[He] just worked hard. Great medical staff, they have done some extremely good work with him. His prehab and rehab work has been outstanding, and Mother Nature, I suppose. He’s a good healer. Let’s just hope he stays healed.
“He has come back from injuries and personal tragedy in the past so he knows how to go about doing that. There is no doubting his work ethic, you see it when he plays and it is just an extension of that.
“He loves playing and to have something you love taken away from you, it’s pretty easy to work hard to get back out there.”