Beauden Barrett has been backed to boss New Zealand’s latest bid for World Cup history in Japan. Barrett switched from flyhalf to full-back for the All Blacks‘ 23-13 victory over South Africa in Yokohama, a win that tees up the Kiwis to top Pool B.


The 28-year-old offers New Zealand an extra playmaking dimension from the depth of the backline, with Richie Mo’unga at 10 and the versatile Ryan Crotty at 12. Barrett’s sheer pace and controlling guile helped steer New Zealand home, leaving assistant coach Ian Foster to wax lyrical on the accomplished Blues star.

Back in 2015, Barrett played second fiddle to Dan Carter, stepping off the bench in the big games. This time around he can be the main attraction – and Foster believes he can thrive amid top billing and underpin New Zealand’s drive for a record third-straight World Cup crown.

Asked if he thinks Barrett is ready to own this World Cup, Foster replied: “Yes I do. He’s been building it for a while. He’s a key part of our strategy group, the way he prepares.

“I know how focused he is on playing well, but there are a few others like that too. He is helping Richie grow into the position he is in too. He’s a part of encouraging and giving them confidence too.”

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George Bridge and Scott Barrett scored the tries that ultimately saw New Zealand home, in a match where Springboks speed king wing Cheslin Kolbe dazzled throughout a stellar second-half.

All Blacks boss Steve Hansen admitted his side had to toil hard before finding their rhythm and he insisted South Africa can still go on to win the competition. No side has ever lost a pool match and progressed to become champions, but Hansen believes records only exist to be expunged.

“We’re one for one, so that’s pretty good,” said Hansen. “We won, didn’t we? So you’ve got to be happy with that. Were we perfect? No, but you’re never going to be at this stage of the tournament.


“That was the interesting thing about this game right from the get-go. We’ve come out on top of it and very happy that we did but there’s plenty of stuff we can work on. It was really hard for us early in the game in the scrum.

“The boys adjusted through the game and got more fluid. But it’s always going to be a titanic struggle. You can’t strike if you don’t get TQB – which is top-quality ball – at the set-piece.”

Asked if South Africa can still win the tournament, Hansen added: “I talked about this the other day. For us to win the tournament we have got to win every game.

“For South Africa win the tournament they have got to win every game and we have got to do the same – and nothing has changed in that respect after tonight.

“History is a great thing but it’s there to be broken. Their mindset from now is that every game’s a final, and it’s the same for us. So yes, they can do it.”

– Press Association 

WATCH: The new RugbyPass documentary, Tonga: Road To Japan

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