McKen­zie must mix flair with cau­tion

The Irish Times - Sports Weekend - - RUGBY - To­day France v New Zealand Stade de France, 7.45pm

The im­pul­sive abil­ity of New Zealand’s imp­ish full­back Damian McKen­zie needs polishing but coach Steve Hansen is back­ing the 22-year-old to be­come a ma­jor player in the team.

McKen­zie con­tin­ues in the All Blacks start­ing line-up for an eighth suc­ces­sive game to­day against France but with words of warn­ing ring­ing in his ears. “He has to learn how to play Test rugby and Test rugby is not like Su­per Rugby where you can do au­da­cious things and get away with them,” Hansen said ahead of the match at Stade de France,.

“We don’t want to stop his flair, but he’s got to get bet­ter at the risk and re­ward con­cept of what he’s try­ing to do.”

Hansen said McKen­zie was now chal­leng­ing Jordie Bar­rett, out of ac­tion af­ter shoul­der surgery, for the back-up full­back role be­hind Ben Smith. The 31-year-old Smith has taken a six-month sab­bat­i­cal from the game and not played since Au­gust when he was on the wing against Aus­tralia in the Rugby Cham­pi­onship clash in Dunedin while McKen­zie played at full­back.

Mumps

Winger Rieko Ioane has re­cov­ered from mumps, while Vaea Fi­fita will start at blind­side flanker. Hansen has also re­called out­half Beau­den Bar­rett and named lock Luke Ro­mano to start with Sam White­lock in the scrum’s en­gine room.

French coach Guy Noves has re­called Mathieu Bastareaud who will make his come­back more than two years since his last ap­pear­ance af­ter the Toulon cen­tre was named to start. The team will will be led by scrumhalf An­toine Dupont and debu­tant out­half An­thony Bel­leau, in the ab­sence of the in­jured Camille Lopez. FRANCE: Du cu­ing, Thomas, Do um ay­rou, Ba stare aud,Huget,B elle au, Dupont; Poi rot, Gui ra do (capt ), Slim a ni, Va ha am ah ina, Ga br ill agues, Can cori et, Gourd on, Pica mo les. Re­place­ments: May na di er, Ch au me,Kotze,J ed ra si ak,Je lon ch, S erin, Tr in h-Duc,P en aud. NEW ZEALAND: McKen­zie, Na ho lo, C rot ty, Williams, Io a ne, B Bar­rett, Smith; Ham es, Co les, La ula la, Ro­mano, White lock, Fifi ta, Cane, Read( ca pt ). Re­place­ments: Tay­lor, Crock­ett, Tu’ un ga fa si, S Bar­rett, Todd, P er­ena ra, So po a ga, Lie ne rt-Brown. Ref­eree: An­gus Gard­ner( Aus­tralia ).

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