Barrett expects little flair from Lions

Sat, 15 Apr 2017 11:15
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IN THE SPOTLIGHT: New Zealand's World Player of the Year Beauden Barrett is expecting the British and Irish Lions Test Series to be a grinding defensive and tactical battle. 

The 25-year-old, who has filled the enormous vacuum left by legend Dan Carter at flyhalf with aplomb since impressing in the 3-0 Test series whitewash of Wales last year, told the Daily Telegraph that he expected the Lions to play in the same effective manner Kiwi Joe Schmidt has drilled into Ireland.

Barrett knows Ireland well, quite apart from spending some of his childhood in the country as his father went to manage a farm there, having been on the receiving end of a historic defeat last year in Chicago before gaining revenge in a no holds barred Test in Dublin in November.

The Lions, whose head coach New Zealander Warren Gatland will name his squad on Wednesday, will be bidding to emulate the 1971 team who beat the All Blacks in their own backyard.    

"I remember them [the Lions] being over in 2005 and, having experienced northern hemisphere rugby of late, it's going to be huge. We've learned a lot about our game, so perhaps we'll adapt better when they arrive.

"It's certainly different to Super Rugby and the general way we play down south. It's very forward and set-piece-orientated. It's often a defensive, tactical game. I wouldn't say it's hugely free-flowing.

"It's real Test match footy. It's applying pressure. It's hard to explain actually, but it's how you've seen Ireland play in particular," said Barrett, whose younger brother - second row forward Scott - could well line-up with him.

Barrett, who turned down the opportunity to play in the Sevens tournament at the 2016 Olympics to focus on making the flyhalf spot his own, said it would be futile to try and please the crowd if the formula they have adopted during the Test series is working.

"For me, It's about getting the balance right. If it's on to kick 10 times out of 10, you keep doing it. You don't stop to think 'we're doing this too much'. You hammer it home. You've got to get the ball into space, and there are many different ways of doing that," he added.

However, Barrett is keen to make the point that All Blacks head coach Steve Hansen is not a one trick pony when it comes to tactics.

"The great thing about this team is that we're not conservative. We're encouraged to put ourselves under pressure and deliver plays. It's great," he stated.

Barrett, who credits being brought into the leadership circle of the team as boosting his self-confidence, admits he needs to add more steel to his on pitch personality - a trait that his potential Lions counterpart Jonathan Sexton is certainly not lacking in.

"That's probably an area where I've got work to do. It's always going to be difficult for me, just because of my personality. I've had to learn how to have those uncomfortable situations that no one really likes to have.

"But the team vision is always in mind, that's what you're trying to align everyone with," he said.

The Lions begin their tour on June 3 against a Provincial team - Gatland's son Bryn will be in their team adding a nice early spark to the campaign - with the three Tests at the back-end of the trip on June 24, July 1 and July 8. 

Agence France-Presse

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