Foster explains why 'freakish' Barrett is so lethal
REACTION: All Blacks head coach Ian Foster has put down Beauden Barrett’s ability to make momentum-swinging intercepts down to his ‘freakish ability’ to defend two spaces at once.
The All Black flyhalf showed his free-wheeling spirit in his 100th test for the side, coming up with two big intercept tries to open the scoring and finish the try-scoring in the 54-16 win over Wales in Cardiff.
They were the kind of instinctive plays that Barrett has produced so often over his career, stunning the opposition against the run of play with a magic moment. Foster explained that his unique ability is ‘no fluke’.
“It’s not a fluke, because he does it regularly,” head coach Ian Foster said in the post-match press conference.
“If the fella next to me [Sam Whitelock] tried to go for those intercepts and missed, he wouldn’t have the ability to turn around and run them down over the next 20-metres, where Beaudy’s got that freakish ability to defend two spaces.
“He knows he’s got speed to make up for it.
“I think if you look at all the qualities he’s got, it’s his ability to run fast and be decisive is one of his greatest.”
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Despite taking two intercept tries to start and finish the match, a third intercept went begging in the first half which could have seen the first five spend 10-minutes in the bin in his milestone match.
Barrett believes he could have got the ball but on that occasion, he left the decision to jump the pass a ‘little bit late’. After review from the TMO, the referees decided on just a penalty which Barrett said he thought was the right call.
“I thought if I accelerated and backed it a little bit sooner I could have probably got it, but I left it a little bit late,” Barrett explained.
“We’ve seen those go either way in terms of the card or not, but I think the right call was made.
“It was a gamble that I took.”
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Over Barrett’s career those gambles have produced more often than not. In his 100th test, perhaps it was fitting that he was able to produce two more.
Foster said ‘you couldn’t script it better’ and that he couldn’t be ‘more proud’ of Barrett’s performance, which showed he is still right up there in terms of influence in the international game.
“I don’t mean to be smart, but you saw the game. I thought he was strong, he did what he does,” Foster said.
“I know it’s an eternal debate back at home, we’ve got two if not three outstanding 10s. But I think the main focus should be on Beaudy right now, his 100th game, you couldn’t probably script it better.
“Playing your 100th, getting the opportunity to show some of your skills.
“He guided us through a tense time, but you are always going to get that when you come up here in that first 40-50 minutes, and I couldn’t be more proud of his game.”
Foster wasn’t prepared to rank Barrett in terms of all-time All Black 10s, but described him as ‘pretty special’ and one of the key leaders in the side that is ‘massively important’.
Barrett’s contribution to the side goes a long way off the pitch, in terms of game planning and preparing the team for the upcoming challenge Foster said.
“Beaudy always goes about preparing the team first, then he prepares himself and that’s kind of his flow during the week,” Foster explained.
“He, along with Sam and small group of others, we’ve got some key leaders that are massively important in the culture and keeping the standards of this group, making sure we get the right balance on-and-off the park.
“And then also that we’ve got the right plan to go on the park. Beaudy’s one of a number of guys that contribute heavily into that space, so when they go out, they own the game.
“They’ve been part of the architecture in designing it, and I think you see that with him, that control.
“I think to play his 100th in a pretty special stadium like this was pretty cool. I know he wants many more but let’s just pause and enjoy it. I guess the highlight reels around the world will show it.
“I don’t really want to say where we rank him, but he’s pretty special.”
By Ben Smith, Rugbypass