'It reminds me of my early days': Barrett's full circle ABs career
Once regarded as the world’s best player throughout 2016 and 2017, Beauden Barrett has settled back into life with the All Blacks as an impact player from the bench and secondary option at first-five after his stint in Japan.
In the first two tests against the Wallabies, Richie Mo’unga has started at No 10, indicating that the Crusader has received the top job from Ian Foster’s coaching staff after both he and Barrett auditioned for the role against Fiji.
Barrett, who has 93 test caps, has found his way back to a similar role to when he started, wearing the No 22 jersey and coming into test matches late looking to make an impact.
Over his first 36 test matches from 2012 to 2016, Barrett started just eight times, with six of those coming in the No 10 jersey.
With Aaron Cruden and Dan Carter in the squad, competition for starts was tough and Barrett’s freakish skills often paid off for Steven Hansen when he came into the game late against tired opposition.
The 30-year-old said his role in 2021 “reminds” him of those early days, having come into the game to close out the result over the first two Bledisloe Cup tests.
“It reminds me of my early days in the All Blacks,” Barrett told media after Saturday’s 57-22 win.
“Essentially I just have to add value when I get my opportunities, as a unit we have to come on and make a difference as a unit, not as individually.
“Last week we got a little bit caught up. Our discipline let us down and Aussie ran in three late tries, we were pretty disappointed with that and wanted to make a shift this week. As a unit, the run-ons did a good job tonight.”
Having sealed the Bledisloe Cup for another year, Barrett said he hopes the fans are proud.
Across his 10-year international career, Barrett has only lost to the Wallabies three times in 22 matches and hasn’t yet been a part of an All Blacks side that has lost a Bledisloe Cup series.
“It means a lot to us and it showed in the way we turned up tonight. It’s a very important trophy that we love to play for each year and hopefully we did our fans proud,” he said. “We defended our Eden Park for another year.”
One of those three defeats to the Wallabies was when the All Blacks last travelled to Perth before the World Cup in 2019.
In front of 61,000 fans at Optus Stadium, during the first international rugby match at the ground, the Australians put a record score on Steven Hansen’s side to win 47-26.
At fullback that night, Barrett scored a second half try but couldn’t stop the tide of Wallabies tries with only 14 men on the field after brother Scott Barrett’s red card.
The older Barrett sibling acknowledged that, with the dead-rubber third test set to be played in Perth next week, their return in Western Australia won’t be without its difficulties.
“I know Perth is going to be a different kettle of fish. Last time we played Aussie over there it was a tough day at the office,” he said.
“We’ll enjoy tonight no doubt, celebrate it, already filled it up [Bledisloe Cup], have a good night and worry about Perth next week.”
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