Barrett and Mo'unga go head to head in North-South match

Beauden Barrett and Richie Mo'unga will face off at first-five in Saturday night's North versus South rugby match in Wellington.

The game, essentially an All Blacks trial, will be played in front of no fans.

The All Blacks coach Ian Foster will name his first squad of the year following the game on Sunday.

Barrett will run the backline for the North, which includes Damian McKenzie at fullback, and Sevu Reece and young Blues star Caleb Clarke on the wings.

Curiously, though it probably doesn't matter, TJ Perenara will start at halfback with Aaron Smith on the bench.

The in-form Jordie Barrett is at fullback for the South, with exciting Crusaders outside back Will Jordan on the wing.

Mo'unga is at number 10 outside halfback Brad Weber.

Jack Goodhue and Braydon Ennor are in the South midfield, opposite Rieko Ioane and Anton Lienert-Brown for the North.

In the forwards, Blues number eight and Super Rugby Aotearoa standout Hoskins Sotutu starts for the North next to openside Ardie Savea and blindside Akira Ioane.

Karl Tu'inukuafe, Asafo Aumua and Ofa Tuungafasi make up the North front row.

All Black loosie Shannon Frizell is at blindside for the South with Tom Christie and openside and Tom Sanders at number eight.

North Head Coach John Plumtree said: "It's an exciting squad that we've picked for this special match. There's a huge amount of lot of talent in the side. There's some real power in the forwards and some speed in the backs.

"The North has gelled together really well this week and the players are having a lot of fun. They're really excited at the challenge against the South and certainly not lacking in any motivation. There will be a real intensity to the match with two really good teams going toe to toe," Plumtree added.

The Head Coach of the South team, Brad Mooar, said the South side had some strong combinations, with additional strength and pace thrown in as well.

"It's always hard to pick those in the 23 and all 28 in our squad could've been selected. We have a fantastic group of men who have all made the most of this week, building relationships and having fun with each other as well as learning new things and formulating our game plan. There's been lots of good-natured banter between the teams and a lot of parochial rivalry."

"The only thing missing at the stadium will be the fans and we're really disappointed we can't share the experience there with them. We know there will be a huge audience watching at home so we hope they'll enjoy what's shaping up as match for the history books," Mooar said.

The North v South match is steeped in history, with the first match played in 1897 (won by the North 16-3) and was last played in Dunedin in 2012 (won by the South 32-24).

The 2020 match will be the 81st match with the Northerners having won 50 matches and the South 27, with three draws.


Forwards: 1. Karl Tu'inukuafe 2. Asafo Aumua, 3. Ofa Tuungafasi, 4. Patrick Tuipulotu (captain), 5. Tupou Vaa'i, 6. Akira Ioane, 7. Ardie Savea, 8. Hoskins Sotutu.

Backs: 9. TJ Perenara, 10. Beauden Barrett, 11. Caleb Clarke, 12. Anton Lienert-Brown, 13. Rieko Ioane, 14. Sevu Reece, 15. Damian McKenzie.

Replacements: 16. Ash Dixon, 17. Ayden Johnstone, 18. Angus Ta'avao, 19. Scott Scrafton, 20. Dalton Papalii, 21. Aaron Smith, 22. Peter Umaga-Jensen, 23. Mitchell Hunt.


Forwards: 1. Joe Moody, 2. Codie Taylor, 3. Nepo Laulala, 4. Samuel Whitelock (captain), 5. Mitchell Dunshea, 6. Shannon Frizell, 7. Tom Christie, 8. Tom Sanders.

Backs: 9. Brad Weber, 10. Richie Mo'unga, 11. George Bridge, 12. Jack Goodhue, 13. Brayden Ennor, 14. Will Jordan, 15. Jordie Barrett

Replacements: 16. Liam Coltman, 17. George Bower, 18. Tyrel Lomax, 19. Manaaki Selby-Rickit, 20. Dillon Hunt, 21. Finlay Christie, 22. Josh Ioane, 23. Leicester Faingaanuku.