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Hansen defends under-fire Barrett

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Not really his fault - Hansen defends under-fire Barrett

Steve Hansen defended Jordie Barrett after an uneven performance from the New Zealand full-back in the All Blacks’ 69-31 win over Japan.

Barrett was criticised heavily after seeing a pass intercepted in New Zealand’s surprise home loss to South Africa during the Rugby Championship.

And Barrett came to the fore with another mistake in the fourth minute in Tokyo, Japan taking a shock 7-3 lead through Samuela Anise’s try after the Hurricanes star’s kick was charged down.

However, the All Blacks responded by running in 10 tries of their own in a comprehensive victory, with Hansen keen to sing the praises of Barrett.

“The charge down wasn’t really his fault,” Hansen said, instead attributing blame to Luke Whitelock. “Go back and have a look at the clip, there should have been someone blocking him [defender], and he’s not far away from me at the moment.

“So everybody has to do their job when it comes to kicking out of their 22. And if someone doesn’t, then someone else looks bad.

“Go back to the Test before [against South Africa], he’s heard about it from quite a lot of sources. He knows himself, in Wellington the quick-throw in wasn’t great, and to start his Test match like he did tonight… it was just a wonderful opportunity to learn.

“Jordie handled it pretty good. He’s still learning, he’s young… he’s definitely not the finished product. We’re getting there, he’s going to be OK.”

A shoulder injury to Nehe Milner-Skudder forced George Bridge into service, the Crusaders wing crossing for two tries and setting up another.

“He’s a pretty good footballer,” Hansen said of Bridge.

“He has been all year for the Crusaders and we saw him come on and he did the same thing he’s been doing for them for us in this game. He gets a tick.”

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Not really his fault - Hansen defends under-fire Barrett