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'Some pretty aimless kicking': Barrett boys' tactics under spotlight

By Sam Smith

Trending on RugbyPass

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The All Blacks 57-23 win over Fiji in the first of two tests was Beauden Barrett’s first start at first five since declaring in Japan he wanted to win his position back off Richie Mo’unga.

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Moving out of the fullback role, Barrett spent last week against Tonga on the bench before getting the chance to control proceedings at 10 along side his younger brother Jordie at the back as part of a reshuffled back line against Fiji.

One aspect of the game in focus was the kicking from the Beauden and Jordie Barrett 10-15 partnership. Patrolling the backfield for the All Blacks, a number of kicks went long and uncontested and ultimately were safely caught by their Fiji opposites.

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Kirwan on why Fiji and Japan are ready for Rugby Championship | The Breakdown

Both Barretts seemed content with continuing to return serve on the full, failing to get contestable, high kicks up to test the Fijian backfield. Speaking on Sky Sport’s The Breakdown, the panel thought the amount of kicking was ‘aimless’ at times, and served to invite Fiji into the game through counter-attacking opportunities.

“Our kicking game on the weekend, for me, I got a bit concerned about it,” former All Black Jeff Wilson highlighted.

“One of our great strengths of our game is kicking to get possession back, it looked as though on the weekend we gave away a lot of pill. We gave them the opportunity to attack us.”

Former Black Fern Hannah Porter agreed with Wilson’s summation, saying the kick decisions were below par.

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“There was some pretty aimless kicking from our decision makers, giving them back the ball,” she said.

“The chase line here isn’t that great, so we aren’t adding pressure onto that kick,” Porter described whilst viewing a Barrett grubber.

“It was frustrating to watch, wasn’t it?” Wilson added.

“I just got a sense that we were asking them to take the ball back to us, rather than the other way around.

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“I’m just not sure these are the things that the All Blacks will be looking for.”

With Foster and his staff searching for the right make-up of his side, the All Blacks could see Mo’unga return to the starting line-up with a new fullback for the second test after the kicking game failed to impress.

One of the key decisions coming up with the return of Anton Lienert-Brown from injury will be the make-up of the midfield. Blues centre Rieko Ioane has been given two starts at 13 so far, and former All Black John Kirwan would like to see more out of his game.

“Everyone knows I really think we should invest in Rieko,” Kirwan said.

“What I would like to see from him though, we know how fast he is but he’s taking the outside break a bit too much.

“I think he needs to take a bit more time straightening the defenders up early. Taking those hard lines on the inside shoulder.

“He does this a lot [take the outside], he can really accelerate through that, but I think he just needs to build a wee bit more, but that’s just learning to play centre.

“I’d like to see Havili and Anton Lienert-Brown, but possibly Lienert-Brown at 12 and Rieko at 13 just to keep him in there.

“Keep him [Ioane] in there and get him still working on his game, if they think he is the guy for the future.”

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'Some pretty aimless kicking': Barrett boys' tactics under spotlight

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