After the All Blacks suffered a comprehensive loss at the hands of the Wallabies last weekend, fans’ patience is wearing thin with Richie Mo’unga at fly-half and Beauden Barrett at full-back. 

The combination had been called for all Super Rugby season, and while Steve Hansen has experimented with it over the past two Test games, the All Blacks are yet to come away with a win. 

The decision has not proved to be a complete disaster, and the All Blacks are typically slow starters in their first test matches of the year. But the Crusaders 10 has perhaps failed to get the backline firing on all cylinders. Furthermore, fans feel that Barrett needs to get his hands on the ball more. 

But this is not simply about Barrett and Mo’unga, as it also affects Ben Smith. The veteran All Black is arguably the best full-back in the world. He is safe as houses in the 15 shirt and poses a threat from the backfield. However, he is nowhere near as dangerous on the wing and his lack of pace is exposed. 

Fans are also starting to question whether having Mo’unga and Barrett on the field is worth sacrificing Smith as well. If Hansen is to persist with it, Smith may find himself on the bench with a more natural winger like Sevu Reece coming in. 

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However, some fans still want to see the 25-year-old Mo’unga given one more chance at 10 this weekend against the Wallabies at Eden Park. This will surely be his – and Barrett’s – last chance to impress at 10 and 15, as this is their penultimate match before their opening pool stage match against the Springboks at the World Cup. 

Hansen has a tough decision on his hands, as he will surely want to build a bit of momentum as the All Blacks seek to win a third consecutive World Cup, but this is also the opportunity to try out any new combinations before the competition starts next month in Japan. This is what had been said: 

I have run out of excuses since the Argentina game! No enforcer at blind. The midfield has failed to sync, Mounga has failed to command the line. Won’t be shocked if Barrett starts at 10 at Eden park. Won’t talk about Read.

— Kahiigi Kahiigi (@Kahiigi3) August 12, 2019

Alot of uncharacteristic errors & ill discipline. Would rather a reality check performance now than in a month or so at the World Cup. People who took Dan Carter for granted now see his impact. I’m not sold on the Barrett-Mounga experiment ?????

— Ahmed Kheir (@AhmedKheir6) August 11, 2019

#AUSvNZL it was a tight game before the red card, after, NZ had very little chance. There is going to be terrible retribution next game.
Barrett back to his true position. Mounga back to the bench.

— Quentin Marsh (@Quentin_Marsh) August 10, 2019

Agree Kobus, O think biggest issue is players out of position. Barrett is not a fb and Smith not a wing. Mo’unga struggling under test pressure. We saw in previous world cups how AB coaches lost games with players out of position. Hansen making same mistake at bad time.

— Ryan Walker (@Deacon147) August 11, 2019

The All Blacks must go back to Barrett at first five , Ben Smith to full back and Jordie Barrett to wing > and Mo’unga to the reserves.????

— Dave M Cull (@dreamer3638) August 11, 2019

Anyway, Barrett (and the All Blacks) play better with him at 10. Richie Mo’unga is looking like a dear in headlights without that Crusaders pack.

— Kahn D. Tyise (@Umakhathini) August 11, 2019

Need to stick with the same team. We desperately need continuity. Would go with 15. B Barrett 14. B Smith 13. J Goodhue 12. A Leionart Brown 11. R Ioane 10. R Mounga 9. TJ Peranara 8. K Read 7. S Cane 6. A Savea 5. S Whitelock 4. P Tuipolutu 3. O Franks 2. D Coles 1. J Moody

— Luke Easton (@3ku1) August 10, 2019

Intensity is there.
They just didn’t have ball carriers.
I think the Mounga Barrett experiment deserves one more chance.
A loss is worrying but 14 point loss playing with 14 is actually a red flag for the wallabies.

— Farai (@The_fusse) August 10, 2019

The Mo’unga/Barrett experiment looks good. Read finally came good. Ben Smith is wasted on the wing, I’d put in a specialist winger. Savea was up and down. The rest of the team played ok. Wallabies were just better.

— Macca 2??0??1??9??™? (@KiwiSAHD) August 10, 2019

The red card for Scott Barrett was certainly a mitigating factor as to why the All Blacks were not at their best against the Wallabies, who equally pulled off a sublime performance. 

Although it would usually be unfair to write off this new experiment by Hansen so soon, he doesn’t have much time on his hands and the World Cup is getting ever closer. 

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