Menu allblacks.com

News

Barrett fully aware of Ireland's advance

Getty Images

Lynn McConnell     14 Nov 2018     Getty Images

Barrett said they had improved a lot since he first met them, had recorded their first win over them in Chicago in 2016, and they were respected by the All Blacks as a result.

"Ronan O'Gara was playing back then [2012], a guy I looked up to in my younger years. The team has changed a lot but so has the game. It's been six years and we've seen the great development of the Irish game and I guess that's on the back of some pretty good coaches as well," Barrett said.

O'Gara's mantle had now been taken by Johnny Sexton.

"He a great player, very skilful, very influential for the Irish team. We're both similar, we're both lucky to be on the back of two great packs and two great nines [halfbacks] so yes, I always look forward to the match-up. Once again I don't get caught up too much in one-on-one match-ups either, it's All Blacks v Ireland," he said.

Barrett said playing his role in the northern hemisphere was different. There needed to be more adaptation on the go. Some things could be assumed going into a game but then they changed and conditions could also have an influence as well.

"It's a great test. We're so used to playing an expansive game down in the southern hemisphere so it's always a test for a flyhalf coming up here and experiencing something different," he said.

One of those tests had been against England when they found themselves 0-15 down. Turning it around had been satisfying and that came down to changing the mindset to being excited about chasing kicks rather than playing with the ball in hand.

"Often the best offence in those conditions is our defence," he said. Barrett said he had paid a lot more attention to his defence since first starting at Test level, coach Steve Hansen had told him he needed to. But enjoyed that part of the game. Being forced to make a few tackles early on got him into the game, he said.

Ireland would throw a few things different that the All Blacks hadn't seen before. They were playing well and were very creative and memories of how successful that had been in the past would have them in the right mindset ahead of the game.

Barrett said his first dropped goal in Test rugby last weekend, against England, had been an instinctive choice based on the wetter conditions and the fact they were playing under penalty advantage.

Ben Smith said there was more protection for players in the air on this northern visit and that was probably a reflection of the awareness for greater safety.

He said these sorts of Tests were exciting because there were high stakes and the rewards were that the winner would be the No.1 team in the world.

"That's a massive challenge for this team and it's one the group is pretty excited about. We know what we're up against and it's a great Irish team," he said.

Smith said he wasn't sure if the game would prove significant in terms of next year's World Cup, but the winner could probably claim some momentum going into next year. He did feel the All Blacks were in a good spot at the moment and were enjoying each challenge as it occurred.