In the immediate aftermath of the record All Blacks defeat and horror Bledisloe debut in Perth, Beauden Barrett is attempting to support brother Scott as he comes to grips with his controversial sending off.
Crusaders lock Scott, making his return to the test arena from a broken finger, copped a red card from Jerome Garces after the French referee deemed Barrett’s no-arms tackle on Wallabies captain Michael Hooper, lunging low for the line at the time, warranted the ultimate punishment.
Scott Barrett’s exit just before half time forced the All Blacks to scramble one man short for the entire second half. In the end, they conceded six tries to a rampant Wallabies side – the final 47-26 scoreline representing the most points the All Blacks have conceded in test history.
Beauden Barrett indicated his younger brother was grappling with his clumsy attempted tackle on Hooper, and subsequent punishment, which now leaves his initial World Cup fate in the hands of the judiciary.
“I was sitting next to him in the changing room. Obviously, he’s really disappointed and carrying a lot of responsibility on his shoulders at the moment but these things happen we’ve just got to get around him,” Beauden said.
“I reminded him that he’s not a dirty player and he realises that, too, so he’s just disappointed in himself. He’s taking responsibility but these things can happen especially when you’re defending close to the line and players do get in a low position.
“We’re obviously very disappointed with the outcome. We can learn a lot from tonight. The good thing about this opportunity is we get next week to start again and hopefully win the Bledisloe because that’s what we came here to do.”
Despite Scott Barrett’s sending off the All Blacks were, for the third time this season, well short of expected standards.
They conceded eight penalties to the Wallabies’ four; defence around the ruck was exposed throughout by influential Australian halfback Nic White, and they were physically outmuscled at times.
“We knew they’d retain a lot of possession and build phases. We can’t give them piggybacks out of their half – our discipline was not good enough early on. It’s hard when you’re 10 points down so early on.
“It’s individual errors. It could be too psyched up maybe or still not getting over a previous error but as individuals, we have to take accountability we can’t let ourselves or the team down and allow a team like the Wallabies to own possession and starve us of the ball which we saw tonight.
“The Wallabies are too good a side to not be patient and make basic errors so we need to treasure that ball.”
Such a defeat, and the continued, disjointed start to the season, will spark nerves among anxious supporters, with the All Blacks now having two tests to regain form and cohesion before departing for the World Cup in Japan.
But should they rectify mistakes and retain a 15 against 15 battle at Eden Park this week, the All Blacks remain confident of squaring the ledger to retain the coveted Bledisloe, a trophy they have held for the past 16 years.
“There were periods, particularly the third quarter, where we built some phases and pressure and got points even with 14 men on the park. The key is our discipline and allowing us to have as many opportunities with ball in hand as possible.
“We have to get tight, take it on the chin and get excited about it again. We know how much the Bledisloe means to us and how much we want to retain it. There may be finger-pointing but it’s not blaming it for the benefit of the team and putting those wrongs right to improve.”
Anton Lienert-Brown, one of few bright sparks for the All Blacks in the midfield, echoed Barrett’s resolve to deliver a definitive response this week.
“We make no excuses and we expect ourselves to win with one less man,” Lienert-Brown said. “It wasn’t good enough tonight but there was good stuff in amongst that. We’re looking forward to the challenge next week. The Bledisloe means a lot to us. Obviously tonight hurt but we’ll hit back hard.
“We’re not going to panic and try change the world. We’ve got to trust in our systems and believe in them. From there it’s going to hurt. We’ll have a very honest review I’m guessing.”
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