Former All Black first five-eighth Carlos Spencer has backed Richie Mo’unga as his ‘number one’ option for the All Blacks’ World Cup bid later this year in France.
The 35-Test All Black, who took the side through the 2003 World Cup, has seen enough from the early rounds of Super Rugby Pacific to hand the No 10 jersey to Mo’unga.
The Crusaders pivot was the All Black five-eighth in Japan at the 2019 event which ended with a semi-final defeat to England.
“I have already got confidence to pick my number one right now – and that’s Richie,” Spencer said on Sky Sport NZ’s The Breakdown show.
“I just think he’s earned that. I think he’s the form first-five at the moment and has been all year, for me.”
“He’s [Mo’unga] more of a threat. Beauden to me at the moment looks hesitant. He is lacking a little bit of confidence.
“It looks like to me he doesn’t want to take contact, so he is not taking the ball to the line.”
Spencer’s backline selection would include Chiefs playmaker Damian McKenzie at fullback, pairing up a Mo’unga-McKenzie axis that has not been seen yet for the All Blacks.
In 2018 a Barrett-McKenzie option was used but a serious knee injury to McKenzie for the Chiefs derailed the All Blacks plans for 2019.
That opened the door for Mo’unga to move into the starting side, shifting Barrett back to fullback for the World Cup.
“Okay, Damian has been pretty good as well but I think we have to go for an outright first-five with the World Cup,” he said.
“But in saying that I would also like to also have D-Mac there, on the pitch as well, as my second No 10 but playing at fullback.
“We can set up a double-sided attack with those two either side.”
The former Blues great would select Barrett on the bench to steady the ship where needed and bring his experience closing out games.
“Beaudie has got to be in there somewhere,” Spencer added.
“I think we are going to need that experience, we are going to need his composure, we are going to need his leadership.
“Especially in big games and tight games.”