All Blacks star Beauden Barrett has withdrawn from Sunday’s Bledisloe Cup opener against the Wallabies due to an Achilles tendon problem.
A tight Achilles tendon means full-back Barrett will sit out game one of the series in Wellington, where he will be replaced by New Zealand team-mate Damian McKenzie.
Barrett had been named in the starting line-up alongside younger brother Jordie to face trans-Tasman rivals Australia.
“Beaudy’s Achilles flared up a little bit at training yesterday [Friday] afternoon,” All Blacks head coach Ian Foster said on Saturday, on the eve of his first match in charge.
“It settled down overnight, not too bad and he’s kicking out there now, but we made a decision, first Test, to pull him out early.
“It certainly looks like that [a one-game injury]. He’s kicking now and running around but we just felt the way it tightened up and impacted on him yesterday, we didn’t want to take that chance tomorrow [Sunday].”
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All Blacks captain Sam Cane added: “He probably could have played at a push but there’s a fair bit of rugby ahead.
“It’s disappointing for Beaudie obviously … but he knows it’s the smart decision.”
McKenzie replaces Barrett, despite not being named in New Zealand’s original matchday 23.
“He’s a quality 15 and ready to go, and it means less disruption to the rest of the squad. All the other positions stay the same,” Foster said.