Otago Daily Times
Rejigged backline shows more potency
WELLINGTON: All Black coach Ian Foster's decision to rejig his backline for the second Bledisloe Cup clash against Australia paid dividends yesterday as the team produced a 277 victory at Eden Park to snatch the advantage in the fourmatch series.
Foster brought Caleb Clarke in for his first start on the left wing, was able to select a fit again Beauden Barrett at fullback and restored a more balanced and experienced midfield pairing in Jack Goodhue and Anton LienertBrown.
The result was far more attacking display from the side that drew 1616 in the first game in Wellington, Clarke's performance, in particular, a highlight.
Wearing the No 11 jersey that was immortalised by Jonah Lomu in the 1990s, Clarke's powerful running electrified the 46,049strong crowd as he set up tries to Jordie Barrett and Ardie Savea within the space of three secondhalf minutes.
``He is an uncomplicated individual,'' Foster said of the 21yearold. ``He has great selfawareness of who he is. He knows what he's good at on the rugby park and he just believes in it.
``He just wants the ball and to run hard. It's quite a good thing for us to give him the ball and let him run hard.''
Foster added that Beauden Barrett had ``showed his class’’ in his decision making after missing last week's game with an Achilles injury and the 29yearold was almost as devastating as Clarke with the ball in hand.
A cleverly weighted kick by Barrett also set up the attacking scrum from which Aaron Smith scored his first half try.
``He brought a lot of confidence to the players and I think there is more to come from him,'' Foster added of the twotime world player of the year.
``He's a great influence on this team.'' — Reuters