A matter of trust, new All Blacks captain says

The other Scott will quietly go about his work as the All Blacks kick off a highly anticipated new era with a tough test against England tonight.

Much of the public and media attention leading into the Dunedin test has quite understandably focused on Scott Robertson as the free-spirited new coach begins his tenure.

There needs to be some recognition that tonight is equally as significant for Scott Barrett, installed as permanent All Blacks captain to replace Sam Cane.

The Crusaders enforcer prepares for his 70th test as the 81st man to captain the All Blacks.

Barrett does not do flashy and expressive - he is from good Taranaki farming stock, after all - and he did not elaborate much yesterday when asked if he was feeling differently ahead of the English clash due to his greater responsibilities.

"It’s similar in a lot of ways. Ultimately I’m just focused on what I’ve got to do up front, and that’s lead the pack.

"I’m fully aware of the challenge England pose up front."

All Blacks captain Scott Barrett enjoys some time with son Dougal ahead of the test against...
All Blacks captain Scott Barrett enjoys some time with son Dougal ahead of the test against England tonight. PHOTO: GETTY IMAGES
He warmed up slightly when he considered the importance of actually enjoying the test and not just dealing with the pressure of delivering success in the new role.

"I think that’s what I’m reminding myself - to enjoy the occasion. Never lose sight of the fact why we play the game.

"I’m sure when I’m lining up for the anthem, there will be a moment of sort of taking a smile and really getting excited about playing rugby for New Zealand."

Barrett had received plenty of good-luck messages from friends and family as well as former players, which he appreciated.

Brothers Beauden and Jordie, and Cane, who had spent time with the All Blacks recently, were sources of support, as were senior players Ardie Savea and Codie Taylor.

Barrett is the only All Black to have been red-carded twice and, fairly or not, his ability to stay on the field for a whole game will come under some scrutiny, especially as this test and the following one at Eden Park will not use the 20-minute red card replacement rule.

The team had talked about accuracy and the need to stay disciplined in a combative game.

The striking difference about the combatants in this test is their respective preparations.

England have been together a long time and had a Six Nations campaign and a test against Japan to get battle-hardened; the All Blacks have had 10 days in camp under a new coaching regime.

Barrett, 30, felt much had been achieved in a short amount of time, driven by the energy of the new coach.

"Today’s focus has sort of been around polishing our preparation, narrowing our focus and getting excited about playing England.

"It’s been full-on. We had a good couple of days in Wellington, and coming down here, we’ve sort of shifted our focus pretty quickly into a test match that’s going to be pretty intense, to say the least.

"The work’s been done. I guess it’s about trusting the 22 guys around me, that they’re going to do the job."

The All Blacks have necessarily had to focus largely on themselves as they had so little time to get ready for the international season.

But they have done their homework on a buoyant English side that can smell an upset.

"They’re quite dynamic", Barrett said.

"They’ll still have their DNA of wanting to take you on up front. But I think with Marcus Smith, Ben Earl - athletes across the park - we’ve got to anticipate a very dynamic England side.

"They’ve still got that physical element. There’s no denying that."

When it comes to the crunch tonight, expect physicality rather than some drastic new All Blacks game plan to take precedence.

Robertson is big on connecting with his players and building an elite winning environment but the Crusaders were often not flashy during their period of ruthless dominance.

The All Blacks will hardly go for broke with the ball in hand, as that would be exceptionally risky against a side like England.

While the various Barretts and the peerless Savea and the front row and the midfield are stable elements of the new era, there will be much interest in how Samipeni Finau operates in just his second test, whether Stephen Perofeta can stake a claim to be the regular fullback, and the new-look inside back combination of TJ Perenara and Damian McKenzie.

Robertson is used to winning. All Blacks fans demand it. Now to see if the era of Razor can start with a sharp performance.