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Rassie Erasmus tweets 'spot on' 34-word reply to Barrett interview

By Liam Heagney
(Photo by Dirk Kotze/Gallo Images/Getty Images)

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Springboks director of rugby Rassie Erasmus has tweeted his verdict on what All Blacks fly-half Beauden Barrett had to say about being on the receiving end of the brutal red-carded aerial challenge in last weekend’s Rugby Championship.

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The 31-year-old – who has dropped to the bench for this Saturday’s round two rematch in Johannesburg – was toppled head over heels in the air when Kurt-Lee Arendse illegally crashed into him in the 75th minute of the round one match in Mbombela, an incident that resulted in the South African being sent off and banned for four matches.

Arendse was taken away on a motorised medical cart due to the injury he sustained in the collision while Barrett, who landed on his head, thankfully managed to walk off the pitch following the six-minute stoppage for treatment.

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He has since given his take on the incident in a four-minute-plus interview released by the All Blacks. “It was quite a big collision and I did think of the worst instantly, especially when I was on the ground and I can’t remember who it was told me to stay still,” explained Barrett when asked to recollect what had taken place near the end of a match the All Blacks went on to lose 26-10.

“It wasn’t until the doc came on and asked me, ‘Can you move your fingers? Your toes?’ I was relieved to have passed all those tests and basically sort of sat up and was able to walk off and get on with it. But there was a fearful period there for a minute or so where you do think of the worst.

“It’s quite scary when you do go over backwards and you find yourself come down on your head and shoulders. It’s part of the game and I understand that every time we go up for the high ball we have got to be courageous. Sometimes the chasers don’t get it right. They have intentions to get up and they find themselves running into the person – which happened on the weekend.

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“The players in front of me are doing their best jobs to protect me but it is not always the case. It’s something we have expected from South Africa in terms of the high ball collision and contest. I don’t think they will change anything, they will look to make it a real contest and a 50/50 but we will continue to be courageous… Yeah, relief would be an understatement.”

What Barrett had to say was replied to by Erasmus on Twitter. “Spot on! An area of the game that requires courage and technique and, as you say, injuries are part of the contest. We hope you get well soon and recover from this traumatic experience,” posted the South African director of rugby.

It was four years ago when Barrett had a similarly frightening experience when hit in the air playing for the All Blacks. “I had a similar incident where I came down on my more my shoulder against France in Wellington in 2018, very similar, the chaser got there sooner than he realised…

“It’s high speed, split-second stuff which can be quite dangerous. I was lucky on that occasion and once again lucky on the weekend. Let’s hope I still have plenty of luck in me because I have got to be courageous and so does everyone who goes up to catch a high ball.

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“It is such an area of the game where South Africa uses it as a strength because they cause carnage up in the air and they like to play off of the spills and so on. It’s not something we focus on too much when we have got the ball but in terms of the style of rugby they play, the kicking game is a strength they perceive.”

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