Foley not convinced by reports All Blacks will drop Barrett
Bernard Foley has written off speculation that the All Blacks will drop Beauden Barrett for their Rugby Championship opener against Australia as "internal mind games".
Barrett has been New Zealand's first-choice fly-half since Dan Carter retired after the 2015 Rugby World Cup and won the World Rugby Player of the Year award in both 2016 and 2017.
Richie Mo'unga's form for Super Rugby champions the Crusaders has led to some calls for him to be given a chance in the All Blacks starting XV.
"I can't see why there'd be anything different. He's been a stalwart there for a few years," said Foley of Barrett.
"He's World Player of the Year at the moment, isn't he? I think it's more internal mind games.
"We saw it a couple of years ago in 2015 when we had the same discussion with Dan Carter and Beauden Barrett and I think Dan Carter won Player of the Year that year."
Discussing Barrett further, Foley added: "He's a great option taker but his speed is an extra dimension that probably allows him to get out of trouble or to chance his hand a bit because he knows he can rely on his pace.
"The other thing too, he's got so much assuredness around him. Ryan Crotty is such a stalwart and probably a calming affect on that backline, as well as Aaron Smith, who shoulders a lot of the direction and the communicating in that side.
"He always has that attacking mindset. I don't think you could say he's a conservative 10.
"He's one who will chance his hand and someone you have to try and shut down earlier because you're probably going to struggle later."
The Wallabies need a strong Rugby Championship after winning only two of their six matches last year, while they have only come out on top twice since 2001 - both in truncated editions ahead of the World Cups of 2011 and 2015.
Australia introduced a warm-up match against Super Rugby and club players to their preparations for Saturday's opener against New Zealand and Foley hopes the change will make the Wallabies contenders for the 2018 title.
"The coaches have made a change, hence the trial match this year," Foley commented.
"The last couple of years we have prepared really well but we were lacking game time and that's why we probably missed the jump in those last two years, and that's probably been the difference in the last two campaigns.
"We have definitely made a change because it hasn't been good enough."