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'It just grated me': The Jordie Barrett missed kick that forced a rethink

By Tom Vinicombe
Jordie Barrett. (Photo by Jono Searle/Getty Images)

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All Blacks and Hurricanes fullback Jordie Barrett has revealed that a costly missed kick against the Brumbies in this year’s Super Rugby Trans-Tasman competition caused a rethink in his kicking process.

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The Trans-Tasman portion of Super Rugby saw the five Kiwi teams face off with their Australian opposition, with the two teams with the greatest number of competition points secured from the international fixtures awarded berths in the grand final. Given the relative strength of the New Zealand sides, any loss would likely end a team’s hopes of playing in said final.

Going into the second-to-last round of the regular season and lining up against the Brumbies, the Hurricanes were in a strong position with three wins from three games and three bonus points to boot. Not that they would have known it at the time, but they also went on to 43-14 bonus-point win over the Reds in the final round. As such, a victory by any margin over the Brumbies would have awarded them a final – and a home one at that.

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The panel of Ross Karl, Bryn Hall and James Parsons run their eyes over all the developments from the past week of rugby.
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The panel of Ross Karl, Bryn Hall and James Parsons run their eyes over all the developments from the past week of rugby.

But the Brumbies had other ideas and held a narrow lead going into the final minute of the game – when the Hurricanes won themselves a penalty and Barrett was given the chance to win the match. Barrett’s kick, however, from close to 45 metres out, just sailed wide and ended the Hurricanes’ chances of a Super Rugby title.

Barrett has now revealed on James Marshall’s What A Lad podcast that the missed kick gnawed at him for the weeks and months to come.

“I’d been in two opportunities with the Hurricane before and they were probably the only times in my career I’ve had a chance to win games,” Barrett said, when reflecting on the post-buzzer kick to beat the Springboks in Townsville during this year’s Rugby Championship. “Got one of them, the first one. Missed the second one against the Brumbies, which was nagging at me for two or three or four months. It just grated me, eh? Because they’re the ones you want to kick.

“I was always a little bit disgruntled because I was thinking ‘Shite, I’m a goalkicker, I’ve been three or four years into my career now and I’ve never had a chance to win a game and I wanted to do it,” he later added. “It’s nice to win them but it’s not so nice when you’re on the other side of it. I remember a few boys walking on eggshells when talking about kicking around me for a few weeks but I’m pretty good about it.”

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That miss against the Brumbies actually saw Barrett rethink one of the aspects of his kicking process – which undoubtedly helped the 24-year-old end the season with one of the best accuracies of any player in 2021.

“The time between the end of our Super season and the Rugby Championship, I actually went away and changed my kicking technique a little bit,” he said. “It wasn’t a kneejerk reaction to one kick, I just felt like I had a little bit too much clutter at the end of my run-up – that was the knee lift with my left leg at the back of my run-up.

“I just thought if I’m going to kick 100 balls, that knee lift isn’t going to be exactly the same all 100 times so if it’s a little bit off 10 times, it’ll be 10 different kicks and timings. Basically just went away, tried to simplify my run-up a little bit and still keep that flow, still try and kick the skin off it and kick it as straight as possible.

“So I wasn’t too nervous, to be honest, with that kick in Townsville. I had, like I said before, gone away and worked on my kicking game quite a lot so I was feeling pretty good about standing over that ball and yeah, just lucky it went through. Held my breath a little bit as it started heading towards the left upright but I feel like I’m in a good spot at the moment.”

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Barrett also went into depth regarding his kicking process as a whole and how he manages to get so much power into his kicks.

“For a start, just trying to kick the skin off it, that goes a long way to kicking it far,” he told Marshall. “The fact that I’m six-four, just natural physics probably helps a little bit too.

“At the top of my mark, I’ve got this little thing where I’ll lean forward and go up on my toes three times. Ben Blair – ex-All Black, spent a lot of time with Cardiff Blues, Crusaders, good goal-kicker – he got that into my game when I was down at Lincoln [University] and it was more just about trying to feel light on your feet and light on your toes. [If] you stand at the top of your mark and you’re on your heels, you don’t really feel that good about yourself. It’s more about feeling light on your feet, a couple of forward presses going up on your front toes and that just makes you feel light and like you’ve got a lot of rhythm.

“I guess the step back in my run-up, that’s just to generate a little bit of flow and then just as you probably see, a bit of a gentle tilt and then some forward momentum. I think the biggest thing to kicking far – punting or off a tee – is landing on your same kicking leg. Obviously, you’ve got your plant foot, you’ve got your kicking leg. When your kicking leg comes through, actually landing on that same leg, it just transfers power, for me. That’d be my biggest thing: land on the same kicking leg.”

Last year, Barrett nailed two monster kicks, against the Jaguares and the Chiefs, from around the 60-metre mark. The distance he can generate with his punts and goal kicks, coupled with his overall accuracy, helped him cement his spot with the All Blacks as their first-choice fullback.

Listen to Jordie Barrett’s interview on the What A Lad podcast below:

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