The All Blacks coach Steve Hansen has fired a shot at his Australian counterpart Ewen McKenzie, questioning the decision to start Kurtley Beale at first five eighth in Saturday's Bledisloe Cup opener.
The versatile Beale was preferred to Bernard Foley despite playing inside centre outside the Wallabies' incumbent flyhalf for Super Rugby title winners New South Wales Waratahs this season, and off the bench in the June series against France.
Beale has made no secret of his desire to start in the number 10 shirt for his country and, with his contract up at the end of the season, has attracted the attention of Australia's National Rugby League teams.
Hansen says McKenzie's decision may have been influenced by the Australian Rugby Union, in light of speculation about Beale making a code switch to rugby league.
Hansen says he was a little dumbfounded by it initially, and then came to the conclusion that maybe Ewen doesn't trust Foley to do what he wants against them.
Hansen says or if you think about it the other way, the other guy is out of contract and league are after him so the (Australian Rugby Union) have told him he's got to pick him.
Hansen says they haven't altered their preparations to account for Kurtley Beale's presence.
Hansen's All Blacks side will be looking for a record 18th consecutive victory on Saturday at Sydney's Olympic Stadium as they begin their quest for a third Rugby Championship title in a row.