TODAY |

Opinion: Why Jordie Barrett has to be the All Blacks' go-to man for Eden Park Lions decider

Following the Lions' 24-21 victory to head to Eden Park level at 1-1 with the All Blacks, young Hurricanes star Jordie Barrett might just be the ace up Steve Hansen's sleeve in the search for a series winning victory.

Whatever way you want to look at it, the All Blacks backline stocks are looking incredibly thin right now.

Ben Smith is out for the deciding Test, possibly longer, with another concussion while at this stage things don't look too much better for Waisake Naholo either - not to mention the looming suspension hanging over the head of Sonny Bill Williams after his match-turning red card.

For next week's Eden Park decider, Jordie Barrett has to be unleashed against a Lions side unable to combat his raw ability with the boot, and with ball in hand.

The likes of Damian McKenzie, James Lowe and Nehe Milner-Skudder are all other options to slot in somewhere in the All Blacks' back three, but none ooze the class of the youngest Barrett.

Beauden, Scott and Jordie could make history against Samoa on Friday if they are all selected to play. Source: 1 NEWS

In the wet and windy conditions that Wellington bought to the table, the All Blacks' back three were exposed to the high pressure kicking game of the Lions.

Rieko Ioane, Naholo and Israel Dagg all came up short from the kicking game that Conor Murray, Johnny Sexton and Owen Farrell adopted.

Playing two specialist wingers against a Northern Hemisphere-style side like the Lions is a dangerous ploy, with neither Naholo or Ioane possessing the kicking game needed to beat Warren Gatland's men at their own game.

We saw the perfect tactic against this in the first Test: Israel Dagg on the wing with the ever reliable Ben Smith at the back, replaced by Beauden Barrett after his injury.

This allowed the All Blacks to fight fire with fire against the Lions' never relenting wave of high kicks, with the skills of two fullbacks in the back three as opposed to just one like we saw in Wellington.

A first Test start for Jordie Barrett would put this in place yet again.

The younger Barrett brother has set the early rounds of Super Rugby alight for the Hurricanes. Source: 1 NEWS

Dagg cannot be called upon at fullback for the decider, his skills displayed on the wing in the first Test are next to irreplaceable by anyone currently fit in New Zealand rugby, meaning Jordie Barrett must start his first test in the 15 jersey.

All season we've seen the best of Jordie for the Hurricanes, with teams unable to counter both his skills and his raw physicality running the ball from deep.

At the age of 20, there will be questions about being raw in the Test match arena, but Rieko Ioane has already shown this series that if you're good enough, then you're old enough.

The move would see not only the best from Dagg, but also from his brother Beauden, with the pair proving their class together on countless occasions in Super Rugby this season.

He may not be the most experienced head going around at the moment, but there's no doubt in any true New Zealand rugby fans' mind that he will be one of this country's great players.

It's come earlier than anyone may have expected, but Jordie Barrett is both ready and able to be the All Blacks' hero against the Lions at Eden Park next week.

The youngest of the Barrett brothers was upset at not being able to match his older siblings. Source: 1 NEWS