'He's an absolute beast': Beauden Barrett on new All Blacks captain
With Sam Cane sidelined through injury, and Sam Whitelock and Aaron Smith remaining in New Zealand awaiting the arrival of babies, Savea has been handed the captain’s armband for a fixture that could prove pivotal in deciding the Rugby Championship title in a month’s time.
Barrett has previously led the side, running out as captain against the Barbarians in 2017, and was three years into his Super Rugby career when Savea first arrived at the Hurricanes as a promising teenager.
As such, the former World Rugby Player of the Year has a good understanding of what makes Savea such an excellent candidate to take over captaincy duties for the New Zealand national side.
“I’ve seen a lot of personal growth off the field and on the field with Ardie,” Barrett said on Wednesday. “I was lucky enough to play many years with him at the Canes and what you see is [a] very strong leader.
“He doesn’t speak too much but when he does, you certainly listen to him. He’s powerful with his words. The way he expresses his words and feelings amongst the team is powerful. But what you see on the field is that as well. He’s an absolute beast on the field; leads by action – and that’s what you want as a skipper.”
Some considered Barrett a strong option to again take on the captaincy duties, given his standing as the most capped player in the current All Blacks squad, but the 30-year-old playmaker had no concerns getting behind his former Hurricanes teammate.
“He has all the attributes to be an All Black captain, that’s why he is,” said Barrett. “I don’t think he needs to complicate his week. He just needs to go out and play footy as he has been for years. Brodie and I have made a conscious effort to be there to support them in our own way and so are the other leaders, there are a couple of new leaders in our group. But it’s an opportunity for many of the younger boys too to stand up and lead themselves also.”
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“They’re natural leaders,” said Barrett of the pair. “At their franchises, they’re very influential. But it’s also an opportunity for younger players to step up and lead as well.
“I guess you work together as a leadership group, you set up the week on a Sunday and you figure out how you want to drive the team for that week with the coaches. So it’s about getting that alignment, leading together as a unit. It’s the first week at is so we’ll review it after the game this week and look to grow as we go on through this tour.”
While Barrett and Retallick have won three World Rugby Player of the Year awards between them, they are more than capable of stepping in and barking a few orders when necessary, but Barrett expects they’ll lead through their actions, and leave the key decisions to their new captain.
“Brodie and I, we’re going to do what we normally do and that’s lead well by our actions, drive those standards and support Ardie,” he said. “We’re happy for Ardie, we’re stoked for him actually. Nothing too much changes, it’s just a title, vice-captain.”
The All Blacks take on the Wallabies on Sunday afternoon from Optus Stadium in Perth, Western Australia.
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