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Beauden Barrett on the Ireland players who were 'targets' for the All Blacks

By Ben Smith
Hugo Keenan of Ireland and Beauden Barrett of New Zealand shake hands after the 2023 Rugby World Cup quarter-final match between Ireland and New Zealand at the Stade de France in Paris, France. (Photo By Ramsey Cardy/Sportsfile via Getty Images)

All Blacks fullback Beauden Barrett has revealed how the haka before the All Blacks and Ireland quarter-final was used to intimidate the Irish ‘targets’ ahead of the knockout game.


Ireland were riding a 17 game winning streak into the crunch quarter-final and were riding high after beating South Africa in the pool stages 13-8.

The All Blacks had taken a vengeful mindset towards the game, intent on inflicting pain on Ireland after the 2022 series in New Zealand which saw Ireland claim a 2-1 series victory.

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Barrett said the faces of the Irish players gave him visions of the 2022 series as he performed the  war dance ritual.

“Looking across at the opponent during the haka you get memories, flashbacks,” Barrett said on the All Blacks: In Their Own Words documentary, “We had a point to prove.”

When asked about who he personally was staring down during the haka, Barrett revealed the number one targets for the All Blacks.

“Johnny [Sexton],” he replied before pausing, “Peter O’Mahony… typically guys with targets on their heads.”


Johnny Sexton and Beauden Barrett have their international careers intertwined, with both players adding to the Ireland-New Zealand rivalry that has surfaced since 2016.

In 2018, Sexton stopped Barrett winning three World Player of the Year awards in a row by claiming the award, while the Irish No 10 has been influential in the famous victories over Barrett and the All Blacks.

O’Mahony had famously sledged captain Sam Cane during the New Zealand series during the win in Dunedin, calling him a “sh*t Richie McCaw”.

Jordie Barett said scoring early on Ireland helped shock the crowd who were full of 60,000 Irish supporters.


“Beaudy did one of his chip and chases, got the bounce,” he recalled.

“Had a couple of quick boys outside me, I knew it was a three-on-two.”

Barrett freed up Leicester Fainga’anuku who combined with Rieko Ioane for a 1-2 before the left wing crashed over for the opening try.

“The fact we started so well almost shut out their crowd a little bit.”

The All Blacks expected Ireland to bounce back and they did, scoring tries to Bundee Aki and Jamison Gibson-Park, two ex-pat Kiwi players.

“They were dominate for 15-20 minutes and you would feel like ‘here they come’,” Aaron Smith recalled.

“But then Will Jordan’s try happens. Bang.”

At 25-24 the All Blacks were dealt a yellow card to Codie Taylor after a penalty try to Ireland which put pressure on the side to deliver revenge.

“We were facing an uphill battle in that final 15 minutes, it was a matter of who could hang on,” Barrett.

With minutes remaining the younger Barrett had a miraculous one-on-one tackle over the line on Irish hooker Ronan Kelleher which stopped Ireland taking the lead.

“It was just a reaction, instinctive moment where I thought I should just get my body under it,” he said.

Captain Sam Cane revealed the magnitude of Barrett’s play: “The truth is if Jordie doesn’t hold that up we go home.”


Watch the exclusive reveal-all episode of Walk the Talk with Ardie Savea as he chats to Jim Hamilton about the RWC 2023 experience, life in Japan, playing for the All Blacks and what the future holds. Watch now for free on RugbyPass TV


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sean 14 days ago

It was Sexton cost Ireland the game and world cup. The most basic rule is take your points. Always very over rated player

dave 14 days ago

Great game of footy to watch. Very tense. I particularly loved how the ABs shut down O’Mahony. Not a good match for their spiritual leader to go missing.

Troy 14 days ago

I'm afraid I'd be inclined to listen to Sam Canes take on matter rather than a Saders fan tainted opinion as such. If Ireland had been awarded that try and with time running against them, being behind on the scoreboard while still down a man, the All Blacks confidence levels would have been seriously eroded a

SadersMan 15 days ago

No, Sam Cane. The Jordie tackle happened 10 mins from time, so it was nowhere near “go home” time for the ABs. A conversion would’ve given Ireland a 3pt lead, hardly a match-winning margin with 8 mins left.

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Mzilikazi 2 hours ago
Is Ireland versus South Africa a battle for the title of ‘world champions’?

Very good article, Nic, and I find agreement with what you write virtually 100%. I think this two mach series has increasingly become one which will be very difficult for Ireland to win. After the first game of the last 6N, I would have been very full of confidence taking on the Boks in SA. France beaten by a big margin in France, it looked as if Ireland had emerged in fine form from the World Cup, despite the very narrow loss to the AB’s. But after that game, a slide began, ending with the defeat to England. Ireland were very fortunate to win this years 6N ! And as you so fully expose, this has not been a good season for Leinster, or indeed, in my view, for any Irish province. The Leinster loos to the Bulls, and then Munster letting a glorious chance slip to the Glasgow Warriors down at Thomond. Man, that one will really hurt. And both Connacht and Ulster have at times looked very poor this seaso, bith heavily beaten on occassion. The loss of both Gibson Park and Keenan are huge blows, especially Gibson Park. And there is really only one clear class 10 in the touring party, Jack Crowley, and he is still a very young player learning his trade. If he goes down, heaven help Ireland. And in my view, Ireland do not have a good scrummaging front row, SA do, and in great depth too. But despite all this doom and gloom, I always believe my team can win. Not that they will win, just can ! Ireland will still field what is the best and most talented team overall that I have seen in my lifetime. But the coaching group will really have to step up, no awful decisions like the one made against the AB’s in the QF….keeping the totally spent and poorly performing(on the day) Sexton on for the full 80mins, leaving Crowley on the sidelines. Ireland should never have lost that game !

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Shaylen 4 hours ago
Is Ireland versus South Africa a battle for the title of ‘world champions’?

Ireland have all the tools required to hurt SA. They develop quick ball, hold onto the ball for long periods, stretch the game when its on, have powerful mobile forwards, a good kicking game and they can hold their own in the scrum. They also can force turnovers regularly and in general do well at the breakdown. When Munster, the Ospreys and Glasgow all won games in SA this year against the Bulls and Stormers they did just that and won. It is also the reason why Ireland won the game at the world cup last year. The problem for Ireland is that SA have all the tools required to hurt them as well and hurt them a great deal more than England did in the Six Nations. They are physical and powerful at the set piece, they rush up and counter the Irish attacking system and they can really attack the breakdown and slow your ball down. Their counterattacking threat is also a big weapon and they score many tries from turnover turning defence into offence in a second. Toulouse and the Bulls nailed Leinster in this way and Glasgow did the same thing to Munster. So the series will be really interesting because both sides are so good at countering each other. Interested to see what kind of surprises Tony Brown springs and how the SA game develops. Feel like SA have more potential to surprise Ireland but then a new coaching set up as well as the fact that Japanese and foreign based players tend to take about 5 to 6 weeks to get up to speed might work in Irelands favour. SA have shipped at least one game in 4 of the last 5 June/July test windows going back to 2018 for this exact reason.

62 Go to comments
FEATURE Is Ireland versus South Africa a battle for the title of ‘world champions’? Is Ireland versus South Africa a battle for the title of ‘world champions’?