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Have faith, Beauden Barrett will show up for the All Blacks when it matters

By Ben Smith
Beauden Barrett of the All Blacks looks on during The Rugby Championship and Bledisloe Cup match between the New Zealand All Blacks and the Australia Wallabies at Eden Park on September 24, 2022 in Auckland, New Zealand. (Photo by Hannah Peters/Getty Images)

Beauden Barrett’s form matters as much as today’s weather in six month’s time as far as the All Blacks are concerned.

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There is no need to fall victim to the prisoner of the moment, short-term view that somehow one of the all-time greats at 32 years old will miss this year’s World Cup.

Skills don’t disappear overnight, neither does experience. This is a 100-Test All Black with a body that, touch wood, rarely gets injured.

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There have been the head knocks, but no knees or serious muscles injuries which is an incredible feat in itself to stay healthy.

Barrett’s engine needs a tune up in September to peak in November, not April. Until then he should be cruising along at half speed to stay fresh and keep a low mileage.

Against the Hurricanes in early March he made a grand total of 0 tackles from 0 attempts, which from New Zealand Rugby’s point of view was perfect.

There is no need to burn out or injure one of the All Blacks’ most important players before it really matters.

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Ireland have made the smart decision. Johnny Sexton’s boots will barely touch grass until the World Cup following the Six Nations Grand Slam.

It would be wise to put Barrett and a host of others on ice too, but there is a Rugby Championship to get through and NZR can’t completely destroy Super Rugby Pacific.

Barrett can be trusted to find form when it matters as he has been through this before.

Following the 2019 Rugby World Cup, where Barrett won two man-of-the-match awards against South Africa and Ireland at fullback, he went on extended leave.

He wasn’t supposed to play in New Zealand in 2020 but the pandemic disrupted those plans.

He turned up to the Blues lighter than before and got himself on the pitch but he didn’t tear teams apart like he used to.

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There were classy touches but he looked on the wrong side of 30 for the first time. His form with the All Blacks was similar. Still good, but not the player that everyone was used to.

Then he went to Japan.

He came back from his stint with the Suntory Sungoliath after re-finding his running game, with an extra gear of speed that had been missing. He put back on more muscle and bolstered his frame again.

He went straight back into Test rugby with the All Blacks and won back the starting 10 role with Mo’unga taking extended leave.

Against South Africa on the Gold Coast he skinned Handre Pollard with pace and set up one of the tries of the season to Ardie Savea.

In his 100th Test he bagged two predatory intercept tries in a 50-point thrashing against Wales.

His head knock derailed the Ireland test early, which the All Blacks went on to lose, and he was absent for next week’s crushing defeat against France.

In 2022 the Blues went on a 15-game winning streak with Barrett back at 10 running hard at the line and breaking tackles once again.

Barrett will peak when it matters, which is when the All Blacks play France in pool play and likely one of Ireland or South Africa in a quarter-final.

The whispers are Galthie’s World Cup plan involves France kicking everything and running high line, outside-in rush defence like South Africa in 2019.

If France want to play like South Africa that is music to Barrett’s ears. He has a 12-3-1 record in All Blacks teams that have played the Springboks.

From Ellis Park in 2013, Durban in 2016, the 57-0 slaughtering in 2017, to the 2019 pool match in Japan, his fingerprints have been all over those results. He has unequivocally been the Boks’ daddy.

France too, have copped it from the All Blacks with Barrett playing. He has never lost a Test match to France, winning eight from eight.

Those big physical teams don’t want to see Barrett on the field. They will want to kick to him even less so.

The old adage is cliche but must be repeated: form is temporary, class is permanent.

Don’t worry about Beauden Barrett’s form in Super Rugby Pacific. When the All Blacks need him, he’ll be there.

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M
Mzilikazi 7 hours ago
Swashbuckling Hurricanes and Harlequins show scrum still matters

I always enjoy a good scrum based article. Thanks, Nick. The Hurricanes are looking more and more the team to beat down here in Australasia. They are a very well balanced team. And though there are far fewer scrums in the game these days, destructive power in that area is a serious weapon, especially an attacking scrum within in the red zone. Aumua looked very good as a young first year player, but then seemed to fade. He sure is back now right in the picture for the AB’s. And I would judge that Taukei’aho is in a bit of a slump currently. Watching him at Suncorp a few weeks ago, I thought he was not as dominant in the game as I would have expected. I am going to raise an issue in that scrum at around the 13 min mark. I see a high level of danger there for the TH lifted off the ground. He is trapped between the opposition LH and his own powerful SR. His neck is being put under potentially dangerous pressure. The LH has, in law , no right to use his superior scrummaging skill….getting his head right in on the breastbone of the TH…..to force him up and off the ground. Had the TH popped out of the scrum, head up and free, there is no danger, that is a clear penalty to the dominant scrum. The law is quite clear on this issue: Law 37 Dangerous play and restricted practices in a scrum. C:Intentionally lifting an opponent off their feet or forcing them upwards out of the scrum. Sanction: Penalty. Few ,if any, referees seem to be aware of this law, and/or the dangers of the situation. Matthew Carly, refereeing Clermont v Munster in 2021, penalised the Munster scrum, when LH Wycherly was lifted very high, and in my view very dangerously, by TH Slimani. Lifting was coached in the late ‘60’s/70’s. Both Lions props, Ray McLouglin, and “Mighty Mouse” McLauchlan, were expert and highly successful at this technique. I have seen a photo, which I can’t find online atm, of MM with a NZ TH(not an AB) on his head, MM standing upright as the scrum disintegrates.

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