The big Beauden Barrett update NZ have been waiting for
SPOTLIGHT: All Blacks playmaker Beauden Barrett said on Tuesday that he is fit again after a neck injury and ready to help tame Argentina in Saturday’s second Test.
A knock to his neck in training ruled Barrett out of Saturday’s shock defeat to Argentina in Christchurch, three weeks after he landed on it following a mid-air collision during a loss to South Africa in Mbombela.
New Zealand have lost three consecutive home Tests for the first time in their history and Barrett can boost their backline when they face the Pumas in Hamilton.
“I’m feeling really good. A few more shoulder-on tackles and I’d say I’m just about ready to go,” Barrett told reporters.
The 31-year-old, who has played 106 Tests, admitted that two heavy blows to the neck in the space of a few weeks was of obvious concern.
“It all adds up, it is another knock. You try to treat everything in isolation, maybe it had a compounding effect,” he said.
“But I have been feeling pretty good this week, just working on rehabbing it.”
Barrett has been strengthening his neck to reduce the impact of injuries.
“I’ve realised that I’ve got to get a neck like a front rower to be able to handle these knocks,” he joked, “so I’ve been working hard on it in the gym.”
New Zealand were punished for ill-discipline in Christchurch by the boot of Argentina wing Emiliano Boffelli, who landed six penalties.
Argentina won 25-18 for a historic first victory in New Zealand and Barrett said conceding so many penalties was “not good enough and we can’t let ourselves down, we need to tidy that up”.
The All Blacks have dropped back down to their lowest world ranking of fifth since losing four of their six games so far this season.
“We’re frustrated, but we’re clear in what needs to be worked on,” said Barrett.
“There has been some good tension around the camp and plenty of determination.”
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#ICYMI: A returning veteran is set to give the All Blacks a boost for their second clash against Argentina in Hamilton. 👇#RugbyChampionship #NewZealand #AllBlacks #Argentina #LosPumas #NZLvARG https://t.co/oGsZIiSy0n
— rugby365.com (@rugby365com) August 30, 2022
In the aftermath of the latest defeat, head coach Ian Foster said New Zealand are struggling to rein in their desire to attack.
Barrett said that they need to be more shrewd with the boot.
“It’s what other teams do really well, particularly South Africa, play a low-risk game plan and then put the ball up in the air and look to feed off those sort of errors,” he said.
“When the pressure comes on, we want to run the ball, keep it in hand, it’s just what feels so natural to us.
“We’ve identified that in games that we’ve lost, we may need to kick the ball a little bit more.
“It seems unnatural, but it’s just being aware of that – looking to attack in different ways – everyone on our feet, chasing kicks, getting those 50-50 bounces and looking for turnovers that way.
“We are figuring out the way that we want to play.”