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‘If it’s not perfect…’ Jordie Barrett reviews the All Blacks’ ‘great’ start to 2023

By Finn Morton
Jordie Barrett of New Zealand celebrates after winning a Rugby Championship match between Argentina Pumas and New Zealand All Blacks at Estadio Malvinas Argentinas on July 08, 2023 in Mendoza, Argentina. (Photo by Daniel Jayo/Getty Images)

Midfielder Jordie Barrett has described the All Blacks’ sensational 41-12 win over Argentina in Mendoza as a “great” way to start the year.

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Led by captain Sam Cane, the All Blacks ran out onto Estadio Malvinas Argentinas in front of a passionate crowd on Saturday afternoon.

But the vibrant home crowd, who were waiting to watch the All Blacks’ first-ever Test match in Mendoza, let out a passionate roar as Los Pumas made their way onto the field shortly after.

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Following the scintillating challenge of Kapa o Pango from the All Blacks to their hosts, the stage was set for another fiery instalment of this passionate rugby rivalry.

After overcoming a shaky start, with Argentine flanker Pablo Matera coming within inches of scoring just 20-odd seconds in, the All Blacks began to hit their stride.

It was all the Pumas for the opening four and a half minutes, but then the All Blacks beast was awoken.

The All Blacks unleashed an attacking onslaught throughout the opening term, and took a convincing lead into the break on the back of a 31-point blitz.

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While the second half wasn’t as lopsided, the All Blacks were still pretty close to perfect.

“If it’s not perfect, it’s not far off,” Jordie Barrett told RugbyPass. “Mendoza, passionate, Argentinian rugby city against a quality team. They had a good outfit out there today.

“We just started well and it was a great way to start the year.”

Barrett was particularly impressive during the All Blacks’ Rugby Championship opener, with the utility back making 13 tackles, running the ball 12 times for 72 metres, and scoring a try.

But the Hurricane credited the forwards for their game-changing impact.

Earlier in the week, All Blacks captain Sam Cane previewed the Test as a “battle of collisions” between two physical sides. In particular, Cane said the forwards would determine the victor.

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After the Test, Barrett highlight the effort from “our big boys” as a key factor – just as Cane expected.

“We controlled our set-piece, we got a couple of scrum penalties, our maul started working and then our big boys started going through them with some short passes,” Barrett added.

“(Dane) Colesy scored off one of Scott’s (Barrett) lines early… they’re a team that helps the field so we just had to go really direct and just muscle up there.

“The discipline, last year in Christchurch we gave away nine penalties in the first half-an-hour, this match tonight we were clean and that makes a massive difference.”

The All Blacks are currently on an eight Test unbeaten streak, and the New Zealanders have obviously come a long way compared to where they were this time last year.

After losing a Test series on New Zealand soil to Ireland for the first time ever, the All Blacks went on to lose Rugby Championship clashes with South Africa and Argentina.

While they won the first Bledisloe Cup Test in Melbourne, for those who remember that controversial match, the All Blacks were somewhat fortunate to emerge victorious against the Wallabies.

“We only have to remind ourselves of where we were a little while ago.

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“We just try and control every single week and just respect our preparation. We nailed this week, it was a great week of prep here in Mendoza, and we had some great weather.

“I think particularly this early in the season for us, it was great we had the sun on our back and were able to train and get through some things. It was a great win.”

But it doesn’t get any easier for the All Blacks. Not at all.

The New Zealanders are already on their way back to Auckland – they flew out of Argentina on Sunday morning – ahead of a blockbuster against fierce rivals South Africa.

“We can’t look any further than South Africa next week, they’ve sent, I think, half-a-dozen players to New Zealand to start their preparation.

“We get in on Monday night and it’ll be a frontloaded week of recovery but a massive test next week.”

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2 Comments
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David 375 days ago

The AB's surprised even their stalwarts with a breath taking first half. The difference for sure were the Big Boys who were fast & brutal. Moreover no infringements that woukd head to them loosing precious ground. The new backs were great & Damien proved his selection as a number 10. One hurdle down, a big one next week on the road to meeting the big & fast Les Blues in the world cup.

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Shaylen 6 hours ago
Ireland and South Africa share the same player development dilemma

These guys will be utility players Nick it cannot be helped because coaches cannot help themselves. Rassie looks at players like these and sees the ability to cover multiple positions without losing much. It allows the 6-2 or 7-1. He wont change his coaching style or strategy for one player. At provincial level players like these are indispensable. If there is an injury to your starting 12 but your back up 12 is a bit iffy then a coach is going to go with the back up 10 who is gold and who can play a good 12. Damian Willemse for the Springboks is an obvious case, for the Stormers its the same. Dobson plays him at 12 or 15, with Gelant in the team he plays 12 but if Gelant goes down he doesnt go for his back up 15, he just puts Willemse there. With Frawley its the same at international and provincial level. He just slots in wherever. Frans Steyn made a career out of it. He was much maligned though as a youngster as he never fully developed into any role. He then went to Japan and France to decide for himself what kind of player he was, put on muscle and retained his big boot, ran over players and booted the ball long and came back into the Springboks after about 3 years away and was then certain about how he wanted to play the game no matter what position. Coaches cannot help themselves because they only want what is best for their teams and that means putting your most talented players on even if it means you cause them some discomfort. Sometimes players need to decide how they want to play the game and then adapt that to every position and let the coach decide how they want to use them.

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FEATURE Ireland and South Africa share the same player development dilemma Ireland and South Africa share the same player development dilemma
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