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The All Blacks first five-eighth stocks have been depleted after injuries to Stephen Perofeta of the Blues and Damian McKenzie of the Chiefs.

Perofeta was forced from the field with a shoulder concern in the comprehensive 47-8 victory over Moana Pasifika while McKenzie was rested to recover from an injury concern with his knee.

The pair are two of the top No 10s playing in New Zealand and shape to be involved with Scott Robertson’s first All Black squad. However, should either be unavailable, it would put serious pressure on the position with few remaining candidates.

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The other form No 10 in New Zealand is one-Test All Black Brett Cameron at the Hurricanes who has been instrumental in a perfect season so far. Whether Cameron is in the mix for All Blacks selection was debatable according to Sky Sport NZ’s The Breakdown panel.

“It’s interesting you said playing in New Zealand, because we’ve got a player who is not in New Zealand who is coming back, Beauden Barrett,” former All Black Jeff Wilson said.

“Brett Cameron is doing a job really nicely here, but let’s understand that Super Rugby is not the international arena. It’s not Test matches. It’s not playing England in July.

“At some point, yes we want to see some players, because we need growth and players to step up and get an opportunity.

“If he continues to do what he’s doing, in terms of Brett Cameron for a Hurricanes team playing outstanding rugby, we’ve got to look at it.

“The question is though are we comfortable with Beauden Barrett as our first five?”

Sir John Kirwan was perplexed with the question, responding with “Are you kidding me?” regarding Barrett, who he believed is New Zealand’s “saving grace”.

The 123-Test veteran is one most capped All Blacks of all-time and his experience would be a major asset to Robertson’s squad.

He is currently playing for Toyota Verblitz in Japan but has agreed to terms on a new deal with NZR that makes him eligible for selection again.

“Because Beauden Barrett is, I believe, our saving grace,” Kirwan said.

“We hope Perofeta is fit, McKenzie is fit, but we’ve got Beauden Barrett. How good is it that we are actually using that, to have Beauden back? It’s fantastic.

“If he came back and Perofeta’s injured, and Damian’s not at a 100, bring it on! Who else would you play?!

“These guys are coming through, but man, coming back to experience, I just think it’s such a good idea.”

Barrett has played in three Rugby World Cups, the first as a utility sub in the 2015 winning side, but his other two were as a fullback despite having many years in between as a first five.

He has captured a bronze, silver and winner’s medal at the showpiece event while achieving the rare feat of scoring a try at every stage of the tournament, including in two separate World Cup finals.

He has expressed a desire to play at No 10 again on his return as he begins a new chapter with the All Blacks. With Richie Mo’unga now playing in Japan permanently it is certainly a possibility as Robertson searches for a playmaker.

 



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