Barrett brothers not taking Springboks lightly

Beauden Barrett on the way to scoring one of his four tries against the Wallabies. Photo: Getty...
Beauden Barrett on the way to scoring one of his four tries against the Wallabies. Photo: Getty Images
There are no false memories in the collective Barrett family treasury and both Beauden and Scott are aware a ferocious battle with the Springboks looms this week in Wellington.

Both of the brothers were instrumental in the 57-0 drubbing the All Blacks handed the South Africans the  last time they played in New Zealand, but both are just as aware what it took to win that game.

It was a record score and one that plunged South African rugby into a deep state of gloom and ultimately led to coaching change later that year but, for all that it may have seemed a walk in the park, it really was not.

The All Blacks were, in fact, second-best in most aspects of the contest for the entire first half.

They were not on the front foot physically by any means, were dominated in the territory and possession stakes, yet reached the break 31-0 ahead in Albany.

What separated the two teams were their respective clinical instincts. The All Blacks had four half-chances in the first half and nailed each one in a finishing master class that broke the spirit and resistance of the Boks.

The second half was more of a genuine rout as the Boks lost their shape, but the point both Barrett boys were keen to enforce in Wellington, is that the old enemy will not fall apart and the All Blacks will have to earn everything they get.

"They were positive memories," Beauden said of last year’s record victory.

"I remember the excitement of big Brodie’s try and how we felt after that to see him go all  the way. But I remember that week itself was probably the best week’s prep we have had for a long time.

"And there was that genuine edge around because we knew we were in for a big battle and it was a big battle. I remember the first half. Although we were up heaps on the scoreboard it felt like we’d had to work hard for everything and it hadn’t come easily.

"It was just about taking our opportunities. Simple as that. We know we have to turn up with the right mentality. We know they will be coming hard every time we play them so we have to be ready to take our opportunities because in test matches you don’t get many.

"We know how desperate they will be this week so we know we have to not just match them but be hungrier than them."

That hunger will need to be there as the one certainty about the Boks is that they will not shirk from the confrontation.

They looked a side low in confidence when they lost to Australia in Brisbane last weekend and they played with little imagination or flare.

However, that should not serve as any indication of what they will bring to the capital as so much of their game flows from their ability to get on the front foot.

And in that regard, as they did in Albany last year, they will almost certainly deliver as they have the athletes and mind-set to do so.

The Boks, even at their lowest ebb, have rarely failed to put up a long and prolonged fight at the coalface and, while their performance in Wellington may end up lacking finesse and polish, it is unlikely to lack brutality and crunch.

"I think you just need to go back to last year’s test in Cape Town and that was one of the most physical tests I have been involved in," Scott, who will almost certainly be starting at lock in the injury absence of Brodie Retallick, said.

"Any game against the Springboks is going to be physical. They want to dominate you physically up front and some of the backs are big ball carriers so we have to prepare for a huge physical battle.

"They are pretty direct. They ran hard and straight and have some big men who want to get over the gainline and deliver quick ball for the drivers such as Elton Jantjies and Handre Pollard." 

- Gregor Paul

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