Steve Hansen is hopeful Beauden Barrett’s performance levels will improve even further playing alongside his brothers in New Zealand’s next pool match at the Rugby World Cup.
The All Blacks began their campaign with victory over South Africa, in the process taking a huge early step towards the knockout stages of the tournament.
Their next outing is against Canada; while it is expected to be a more straightforward affair, Hansen has still named a strong New Zealand side.
Included in the XV are brothers Beauden, Jordie and Scott Barrett, becoming just the second trio of siblings to start together in a World Cup match – after Tonga’s Vunipola brothers in 2015.
Beauden Barrett is a two-time World Rugby Player of the Year and starred against the Springboks, playing at full-back rather than his usual position of fly-half.
Yet Hansen is optimistic the 28-year-old will be inspired to produce an even more impressive display in familiar company.
“We know he’s got all the skills in the world but he’s in a hurry, you know,” Hansen said. “He’s got two brothers who are ahead of him.
“If you’re in a contest with your siblings, you’re always in a hurry – because you want to prove to not only yourself but your two siblings and everybody else that you’re better than they are.”
Hansen is also excited to see Jordie Barrett out on the field against Canada, although he acknowledges there are areas of the 22-year-old’s game that still need honing.
“He’s a very confident young man is our Jordie – and he has every right to be confident,” the coach said. “He’s a very skilled player.
Here it is! Your All Blacks team to face Canada!
— All Blacks (@AllBlacks) September 30, 2019
“It’s not his confidence that we need to get right, it’s just his understanding and his pace of how he wants to play. He wants to do it at 100 miles an hour.
“We’ve talked about that before in the media and he’s making good progress, so we’re pretty excited by where he’s going to end up one day.”
Were Canada to get any sort of result against the All Blacks, it would go down as one of the biggest upsets in World Cup history.
But Hansen admitted he had enjoyed taking in another shock result at the weekend when Japan defeated Ireland, who are seen by many as one of the major rivals for New Zealand’s crown.
“You wouldn’t get a better game of rugby. I thought [Japan] were outstanding in their performance,” Hansen said.
“And their speed of ball was great, their line speed was awesome, they just kept coming, didn’t they? Time after time after time and showed a lot of courage, a lot of intent, and a lot of skills.
“So hats off to them, it was a really great performance and one that the whole of Japan should be proud of.”
PLAYERS TO WATCH
New Zealand – Beauden Barrett
Barrett is a joy to watch at the best of times given his outstanding speed, but the opportunity to take on inferior opponents like Canada should see him really make hay. If the makeshift full-back lifts his level even further as Hansen suggests, the Canucks could be in real trouble.
Canada – Conor Trainor
This match comes eight years to the day since the sides’ previous World Cup meeting, in which Trainor also played. In fact, not only did he play but he also scored – twice. Trainor is the only player to have tallied a pair of tries against the All Blacks in the World Cup in the 21st century. A repeat would make for some story.
KEY OPTA FACTS
– New Zealand have won each of their previous five Tests against Canada, with their most recent four victories in that run coming by 50 points or more.
– The All Blacks have won each of their last 15 Rugby World Cup matches, the longest run by any side in the tournament’s history.
– They also boast a 100 per cent win rate in pool stage matches at the World Cup (29/29).
– New Zealand have scored at least one try in each of their past 27 World Cup matches, a record for any nation in the tournament, last failing to do so against South Africa in 1999.
– Canada are winless in their past eight World Cup matches. Prior to this run, they had never gone more than four matches without victory in the tournament.
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