Michael Cheika expects Beauden Barrett to start for All Blacks
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Last Updated: 10/08/18 10:23am
Michael Cheika expects Beauden Barrett to start at fly-half ahead of Richie Mo'unga for New Zealand's Rugby Championship opener against Australia.
Mo'unga impressed in the final two weeks of Super Rugby as he helped the Crusaders win their ninth title, and his performances sparked debate in New Zealand as to whether he could oust Barrett from the starting All Blacks role.
Wallabies head coach Cheika met Mo'unga while on holiday in Fiji but he cannot see past Barrett starting in Sydney.
Australia vs New Zealand
August 18, 2018, 10:30am
"It doesn't really concern me I suppose but what I do know is this - Beauden Barrett has been the best player in world rugby for the last two years in a row and he's an exceptional player," Cheika said.
"I've coached teams that have felt his wrath personally and his skill and ability.
"There's no doubting that Mo'unga is a class player and a good young fella but Barrett is class. I think there's no doubt he's a player the All Blacks value very much and he'll be out there next Saturday."
The All Blacks lost the last time they met the Wallabies, in a dead-rubber Bledisloe Cup clash in Brisbane last year.
And while coach Steve Hansen has said the Wallabies would start as favourites, pundits and former players on both sides of the Tasman Sea have scoffed at the suggestion given that Australia have won just two of their past 19 meetings.
"He's a great coach but I think he may have had that one wrong because I don't think many of his players would believe it to be honest," Cheika added.
"I don't think it's very realistic. It's pretty irrelevant at the end of the day."