All Blacks star Scott Barrett has reportedly been ruled out of Saturday’s series decider against Ireland at Sky Stadium in Wellington.
According to the New Zealand HeraldBarrett has been sidelined by an Achilles injury, which prevented him from participating in training on Tuesday.
However, the 28-year-old was still picked to start at blindside flanker after starring there in New Zealand’s series-opening win at Eden Park a fortnight ago.
However, after playing at lock in last week’s historic defeat in Dunedin in the absence of the concussed Sam Whitelock, the New Zealand Herald reports that Barrett is expected to miss this weekend’s crunch match in the Kiwi capital.
As such, reserve loose forward Akira Ioane is in line to be promoted to the starting lineup at No 6, while young lock Tupou Vaa’i will fill the vacancy left on the bench after recovering from last week’s Covid diagnosis.
The anticipated loss of Barrett is a big blow for the All Blacks, who are already struggling under the weight of public pressure after slipping to an all-time low World Rugby ranking of fourth last week.
That fall down the rankings comes after they were soundly beaten by Ireland at Forsyth Barr Stadium seven days ago, their 23-12 loss the third defeat they have suffered in their last four tests.
All up, the All Blacks have won just four of their last eight tests, with two of those victories coming against easy-beat teams Italy and the United States.
Ireland’s win in Dunedin was their first-ever against the All Blacks in New Zealand, and was their fourth victory over the Kiwis in their last seven encounters.
Prior to their breakthrough win in Chicago in 2016, Ireland had never beaten the All Blacks since their first clash 111 years beforehand.
Six years on from that result, Andy Farrell’s men are now on the cusp of clinching a maiden series win over the three-time World Cup champions on Kiwi soil.
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