Extra challenge for Barrett on home turf

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Lynn McConnell     26 Aug 2016     Getty Images

With the Bledisloe Cup on the line, New Zealand could wrap it up for 2016 with a win, but Barrett has the challenge of Australia introducing Quade Cooper at first five-eighths, a player Barrett respects for his all-round qualities and x-factor, and also nurturing a debutant at second five-eighths outside him in Anton Lienert-Brown.


Barrett explained his liaison with his outside when saying: "I rely heavily on a second five-eighths to give me good communication, he's my eyes and that connection you have on defence is crucial too. We're pretty lucky with recent second five-eighths in this team and even with Anton [Lienert-Brown] this week I've been impressed so far."

"I just encourage him to go out and play footy and not think too much," he said.

Meanwhile, Barrett hoped the Wellington crowd would treat Cooper with respect and avoid the booing that has dogged him in the past because he rated him as a quality player.

With such a comprehensive win over the Wallabies in Sydney last week the All Blacks were well aware of where they gained the advantage.

"The speed of the ball at the breakdown was high so the breakdown has been a focus and will continue to be a focus, there's no hiding from that, it's what we thrive on," he said.

There's also the factor of being back on his Super Rugby home ground. While pulling on the All Blacks jersey to start was good any week it was especially satisfying on his home turf in Wellington.
"It certainly has been a challenging six months. I target it one week at a time and one game at a time and always looking to develop my game and improve as a footy player so I've been working hard throughout the year. It was good to see the improvements we made as the Hurricanes and the opportunities I got in this team," he said.

Barrett was expecting a tighter game than what occurred, especially on defence, in Sydney, so New Zealand were aware Australia were going to be a lot better this week.

The All Blacks tried to prepare for every circumstance and that never changed but what didn't change was how the Australians would approach the game and how they would play.

"It's going to be completely different," he said.

Wing Julian Savea is back in the starting XV and keen to get amongst the action after scoring a try as a substitute last weekend.


It had been a little frustrating not getting game time but he said he just had to cope. It was a case of working hard to get back out in the middle and he was grateful for the chance he has in Wellington.

"I've been training really hard with the team and just focused on playing rugby and enjoying it.

"There's a lot of people in the camp helping me through, getting my mind right and stuff and I'm just excited to get out there and play footy," he said.

Trying too hard had been a problem but he had been trying to get that out of his mind in order to enjoy his rugby. He also took inspiration from the way Hurricanes team-mate Barrett was performing.

"He's playing outstanding. Just his speed to beat defenders and the way he is gliding through defences is unreal really and hopefully I get fast like that one day," he said.