Complaints? Few complaints about Beauden Barrett after Eden Park display
AUCKLAND, NEW ZEALAND - AUGUST 25: Beauden Barrett of the New Zealand All Blacks celebrates his third try during The Rugby Championship game between the New Zealand All Blacks and the Australia Wallabies at Eden Park on August 25, 2018 in Auckland, New Zealand. (Photo by Phil Walter/Getty Images)

From the very first minute, it looked like Beauden Barrett had the ball on a string. In rugby parlance, that means he had a ripper of a game against Australia, at Eden Park last night.

From a Wallaby charge down, he retrieved the lost ball, and booted it 40 meters perfectly down the sideline. Barrett chased the kick, and was the first defending tackler. What more could a coach ask for? What about four tries.

Four tries! A feat that few could complain about, towards a player who is convincingly the best first-five in World Rugby. No wonder he has won back-to-back World Rugby Player of the Year awards.

Note: he is the 13th All Black to score four tries in an Test, following players like Jonah Lomu and Christian Cullen.

Complaints? Few complaints about Beauden Barrett after Eden Park display

The below highlights are for the All Blacks demolition of the Wallabies last night. And it is not a one man show, by no means. But the shear ability and display of all facets of the game, is reason enough to discuss the player, and his attributes in rugby union.

It must be written as Beauden Barrett, because he is one part of a family of three All Blacks. They each played their part in the game. Jordie started at fullback, with Scott entering the game late as a replacement. Each performed well – yet one stood out.

12 minutes into the game, Beauden Barrett opened the scoring, as he saw a gap and speared through the Australian defence. That is his role, to create the space but in benefiting from that skill too, he is contributing in more ways than simply as an out-half.

And across an 80 minute game, Barrett and his team mates were composed, attacking and were sensational. Beauden scored in the 37th minute, the 61st – probably the try of the game – and again the 69th minute. Four tries, in a combined scoreline of 40-12.

New Zealand 40 – Tries: Beauden Barrett (4), Joe Moody, Liam Squire; Conversions: Barrett (5)

Australia 12 – Tries: Will Genia, Reece Hodge; Con: Bernard Foley

Barrett’s wide skill range is on display; running, kicking, passes and in collecting passes. Combining well with both Aaron Smith and the maligned Ngani Laumape. On the fortress that is Eden Park, the number ten contributed a massive 30 points alone.

Maligned is how Beauden Barrett could feel at times. Like many high performing athletes, criticism is common. By displaying such high levels in their role, anything less can be [openly] critiqued. It has become a commentary where he is compared to his contemporaries, as much as legends of the past.

Kick Success Rate not the only value measured

Some commentators have spoken primarily of his poor kicking percentage. In fact, this reported himself asked assistant coach Ian Foster if the 80% success rate in an Rugby Championship match in 2016 was a concern? Foster looked squarely at me, and said “he works on it, just like any kicker. It’s something he can improve on, but Beauden is a fine kicker…if that’s what you were asking.”

It is true, that his kick-success rate is less than others. Dan Biggar, Owen Farrell, even Hayden Parker of the Sunwolves. His incredible success rate was up to 96% at one stage.

Yet, the percentages and success from all angles is a complaint that doesn’t always stack-up. The vast array of skills displayed by Barrett, is why fans and opposition players respect him. Parker is talented too, as are Biggar and Farrell but, in comparison the overall package of an Beauden Barrett, is by far the more talented: see NZLvAUS statistics.

Try scoring ability is an key performance indicator (KPI) which is a factor. Barrett now has 30 test tries – that is just under 50% = one try per 2.15 games. That is a wonderful aggregate, and when he scores in multiples, then it appears to be an effortless

He also shows a work ethic. In defence, his place is to bring down prop forwards, locks who tower over him and in one of his specialities, in the cover defence deep inside All Black territory. The work rate is not that of a show-pony. It is of a player who gets all around the park, and he was fortunate to be the recipient of the last pass on two occasions.

Humble and Honest, Barrett growing as an All Black

Over his time in the black jersey; including the All Black Sevens, Beauden Barrett has contributed. As a bright eyed kid, he deputized Aaron Cruden and the great Dan Carter. Those two examples, and the mentoring from Grant Fox is now bringing the best out of Barrett….despite some areas of criticism during Super Rugby and with players like Damian McKenzie and Richie Mo’unga

He learned from Sir Graham Henry and consistently from Steve Hansen, the work ethic required. In that sense, he has often had complaints made about running away from his support – not any longer. Complaints that he was unable to place his high kicks in the right place – not any longer.

Reacting and counter attacking is his natural skill. Allowed to ‘express himself’ by the All Blacks coaches, it is an area of strength for the Hurricanes first-five. Combining with Ben Smith and others like Jack Goodhue/Ryan Crotty and Aaron Smith/TJ Perenara,

Barrett works with others to produce the opportunities

Each of the 23 players input contributed towards Barrett’s four tries, and the two victories.

“We had to work really hard early, but the try after halftime was crucial”.

“We just focus on the next job. [The All Blacks] we often talk about being satisfied by the performance. Focus on the process and not the scoreline or number of tries.” Those comments to RadioSport post-match from Barrett illustrates the culture of the side, who can work together to achieve their combined goal – the Bledisloe Cup secured for the 16th consecutive year.

Yes, there will always be areas to improve on. His lineout jumping aside, defence over the ball and engaging with forwards defence to secure ruck ball, is a modern theme for most outside backs. Joining the breakdown and in keeping in contact with the ball might be the next areas of complaint, but after last nights display, there will be fewer than before.

Beauden Barrett – one member of a winning Team

The All Blacks as a group were sensational last night. They followed up on the Black Ferns phenomenal effort, in beating the Wallaroos 45-17. You then consider the contribution of Beauden Barrett on top of that, his was a highlight all on it’s own.

Some had complaints before, however many of those will be silenced. How satisfactory it will be for the group to wake for their team meeting on Sunday morning, to consider how sublime his effort was. Pats on the back will be well deserved – as much as glowing reports from the press and on social media.

But, plaudits are equally shared by 23 players, and should be given through the entire squad. Owen Franks, who played his 100th test, has never scored a try yet his contribution must be measured as equal to Barrett [and Beauden will be the first to share that sentiment].

Full credit to them all, is what the individual Beauden Barrett would ask from fans. Last Word on Rugby wholeheartedly agrees. A team effort. And an admirable attitude shown by the player over his career.

Humble, and always considerate of the effort made by others, Barrett puts the team first. He wouldn’t have it any other way.

 

“Main photo credit”
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