New Zealand All Blacks selectors have kept Beauden Barrett at flyhalf and Damian McKenzie in complete readiness against hardcore critics for the Saturday season test against Italy in Rome.
The initial ingredient contains only four players who also started with a loss of 16-9 last weekend in Ireland, and Barrett's and McKenzie's hold-up seems almost a calculated challenge for those who criticize their performance in this game.
Barrett, the two-time World Footballer of the Year, fought this year to develop tactical means to unlock suffocating protections, such as the one Ireland had installed in Dublin. McKenzie, once favored by the breeders as Barrett's Frenchman, also had no effect in the opposite direction, and in the double-layered plan of the All Blacks, they tried to develop this season.
The solution seemed to play Barrett back and allow the fixed Richie Moona to start in a flyhalf, a move that was widely expected to be the feature of the test choice against Italy. But Moon remains on the bench as the selectors give their two favorite players another chance to find cohesiveness.
The other players retained the historic loss for Ireland, while Captain Kieran Read and Frenchman Ardie Savea, who was New Zealand's best player on the tour, played as a substitute for the injured Sam Cane.
Otherwise, there are 11 changes to the starting line in the expected move to give players an initial opportunity. There are remarkable returns to Huker Dane Coles' starting league and center downtown Ngani Laumape, who can test a more regular start-up role as a response to the lack of intrusion from the All Blacks.
The powerful Laumape scored four attempts at Japan on a tour and seemed likely to bring the lines that were recently missed by All Blacks. Aging and Prejudice Sonny Bill Williams is unlikely in this form to be elected to the World Cup next year, and Laumape seems an obvious heir.
He combines on Saturday with Anton Lienett-Brown while Jordi Barrett, in the midst of the long form of weight loss, was moved back to the wing to give McKenzie a chance to redeem the series of bad performances.
The Blindside Flaker remains a major problem for the selectors and they have chosen Vaea Fifita in this position, giving him a chance to prove his value in the latest New Zealand test of 2018. Scott Barrett, who was awarded the bench in this role during this tour, moved to lock with Patrick Tuypulutu.
T. J Pernara will start playing in Skruchalf and will have the chance to ask for this role as a lasting 9 as Aaron Smith is another formless player. Te Toiroa Tahuriorangi, named on the bench, can skip both players in the starter sculpture role because of his superb gameplay.
All blacks face criticism of last week's loss to Ireland, which comes after a season of incoherent form, raising questions about the direction the selectors take one year of the World Cup. Chief coach Steve Hansen says the team is trying to develop new aspects in their game.
"The group is aware that this is our last week together and they are determined to prepare well, play well and enjoy every aspect of the week," Hannen said. "After two big tests (against England and Ireland), some changes are needed and those boys who have come up have provided real energy and enthusiasm for the preparation of our week."