BEAUDEN BARRETT TAKES another sip of coffee and unwittingly unleashes a comedic pause as he’s asked to consider another big game ahead.
“It’s exciting,” he says with a not very excited tone of voice after letting the black liquid go down his gullet.
It’s halfway through his media duty at the All Blacks’ Blanchardstown base and he has already mentioned how excited he is quite a few times.
But he’s not wrong either, the whole country is talking about the imminent clash of the number one and two ranked rugby teams in the world and whether we might see them swap places going into a World Cup year.
Exciting is an understatement and Barrett is using the word as much to point at areas that require focus as to keep a rein on his mental preparations.
Though he is one of the world’s best out-halves, Barrett is still keen on improving his game. So while he remains a few years off needing to consider being without that trademark searing pace, he welcomes the very different conditions brought by northern hemisphere rugby and the opportunity they bring to broaden his game.
Barrett in Twickenham. Source: Inpho/Billy Stickland
New Zealand warmed up for this weekend’s clash with Ireland by doggedly forcing a 15-16 win over England in Twickenham, a day when they had to show plenty of grit to fight back from 15-0 down in torrential rain. It wasn’t the Beauden Barrett regular viewers of southern hemisphere competitions are used to, and he was more impressive for that.
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“Your tactics as a team have to change,” says Barrett of his approach to playing in the northern hemisphere.
“How we drive a team in the game, we have to adapt on the go. We can assume some things going into a game, but then they change. Weather conditions have an influence, especially up here.
“It’s a great test. We’re so used to playing quite an expansive game down in the southern hemisphere, so it’s always a test for a Kiwi fly-half coming up here and experiencing something different.”
Different experiences, and discovering new triggers for all that excitement.
“(Against England) we just had to get excited about controlling what we could control and get excited about chasing kicks instead of running with ball-in-hand.
“Often the best offence in those conditions is our defence. And it’s almost like, ‘you guys have a go if you want to play with ball-in-hand.’ It was pretty obvious they didn’t want to…”