Baudie’s achilles flared up a little bit at training yesterday afternoon,” Foster said on Saturday at a light training session. It settled down overnight and is not too bad, he’s kicking out there now but we just made a decision for the first Test to pull him out early.”
Foster’s decision to draft in McKenzie is a surprising one, given the 25-year-old wasn’t in the 23-man squad for Sunday’s Test at Wellington’s Sky Stadium.
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On Friday, the All Blacks boss admitted Jordie Barrett, who will start on the wing, was “probably the form 15 in the country”.
However, the first-time New Zealand coach has opted for the Chiefs man as “he’s a quality 15 and ready to go”.
“It means less disruptions to the rest of the squad and all of the other positions stay the same,” Foster said.
Captain Sam Cane said the decision was borderline.
“He probably could have played at a push but there’s a fair bit of rugby ahead,” he said.
“It’s disappointing for Beaudie obviously … but he knows it’s the smart decision.”
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Despite the drama, the All Blacks will start healthy favourites against the Wallabies, who are without a win over New Zealand on Kiwi soil for 19 years.
Cane, who will lead the All Blacks for the first time as appointed skipper, said they weren’t banking a win.
“It’s going to be a heck of a Test match. These ones always are. It’ll be physical. It’ll be fast. It’ll test us all physically and mentally,” he said.
“And that’s what we want.”
ALL BLACKS (1-15): Joe Moody, Codie Taylor, Ofa Tuungafasi, Patrick Tuipulotu, Sam Whitelock, Shannon Frizell, Sam Cane (c), Ardie Savea, Aaron Smith, Richie Mo’unga, George Bridge, Jack Goodhue,Rieko Ioane, Jordie Barrett, Damian McKenzie
RESERVES: Dane Coles, Karl Tu’inukuafe, Nepo Laulala,Tupou Vaa’i, Hoskins Sotutu, TJ Perenara, Anton Lienert-Brown, Caleb Clarke