Something is bothering Beauden Barrett
SPOTLIGHT: Star All Blacks playmaker Beauden Barrett says it bothers him that the door is still ajar for the Wallabies to claim the Bledisloe Cup for the first time since 2002.
The All Blacks lead the four-match series 1-0 after the 16-16 draw in Wellington was followed by New Zealand’s 27-7 win in Auckland.
The series now shifts to Australia for the remaining two matches, starting in Sydney on Saturday.
Wins in Sydney and Brisbane will see the Wallabies reclaim the Bledisloe Cup, ending an 18-year drought.
The All Blacks would have already secured the series if they had won their two games at home, and Barrett doesn’t like the fact they’ve left the door ajar.
“Of course it bothers us,” Barrett said.
“But we can’t be too arrogant and assume we’re going to win every game at home.
“We do respect Australia, and we are up for the challenge that’s presented this weekend.”
New Zealand’s most recent match in Australia resulted in a shock 26-47 loss to the Wallabies in Perth last year.
Although the Wallabies’ squad has experienced significant changes since then and Dave Rennie is now coach, Barrett said the All Blacks will use lessons from that defeat ahead of Saturday’s clash in Sydney.
“It’s important to remember how we felt in the change rooms or in the game during those moments, and use that as fuel,” Barrett said.
“Just little reminders on when things don’t go well, why did that happen. A reality check as to maybe we didn’t prepare as well as we should have.
“Essentially we don’t want it to happen again.
“I think that one really showed their strengths when everything goes to plan, [and what happens] when we don’t front up physically and emotionally.”
Barrett feels the Wallabies have improved under new coach Rennie, and he heaped praise on flyhalf James O’Connor.
“I’ve always admired James, the way he plays the game,” Barrett said.
“He’s got a great skill set. He can be physical, he can run, he can kick, he can do it all.
“He’s enjoying that role and I think he’s only going to improve in it.”
The All Blacks will be without No.8 Ardie Savea and prop Nepo Laulala due to paternity leave, while the Wallabies need to find a replacement for injured inside centre Matt Toomua (groin).