WELLINGTON, New Zealand - Injured All Blacks fly-half Beauden Barrett has been ruled out of Saturday's third Test against France in Dunedin, while centre Sonny Bill Williams is in line for his first appearance of the series.
Assistant coach Ian Foster said Tuesday that neither Barrett nor loose forward Vaea Fifita, who also received a head knock in the All Blacks' 26-11 win in the second Test last weekend, would be considered. Flanker Liam Squire, who suffered a shoulder injury, was listed as an "unlikely" starter. But on the positive side Williams is in the frame after missing the first two Tests following knee surgery.
Foster said the selectors had held a "lively" conversation about the make up of the dead rubber third Test side which will be released on Thursday. "But we go in with a rough sketch as a selection group and we basically have an idea of where we are going. This has been a good one, sorting this one (team) out," he said.
Playmaker Barrett was taken from the field in the 12th minute of the first Test and failed a concussion test after crashing head first to the ground following a mid-air collision with France fullback Benjamin Fall. Fall was sent off, although a judicial panel later cleared him and erased the red card from his record, ruling his actions were neither deliberate nor reckless.
Williams, meanwhile, was likely to be in the third Test line-up after making a quicker-than-expected recovery and being told at a meeting with coaches and medical staff that the surgery was a success.
"The coach turned to the doctor and said 'well, is he a chance of playing in the third Test, or being available for selection?' And the doc said 'yeah, but he has to come into camp'," Williams said. "So he looked at me and said 'you're in camp'."