Needing to win one of two Tests in Australia to reclaim the Bledisloe Cup, the All Blacks are using the offshore stimulus as motivation when the series resumes in Sydney on Saturday.
The All Blacks, who claimed the Cup off Australia and have retained it since 2003, haven’t won the prize on Australian soil for 11 years. The last time New Zealand retained the Bledisloe Cup in Australia was in 2009 when they notched a 19-18 victory in Sydney after a 22-16 win in Auckland.
Beauden Barrett insisted that challenge was exciting for the side.
He said the All Blacks went into the drawn first Test in Wellington with a lot of assumptions on how the Wallabies would play, and what differences there might be under new coach Dave Rennie.
“We’ve learnt a lot in these first two games,” he told the All Blacks’ official website. “With [scrum-half] Nic White out there, they like to get him running on the back of some pretty strong ball carries. They like to play that fast footy, go-forward footy, and they have got some skilful playmakers and some hard-running backs.
“It’s a well-balanced game that they’re playing.
“I wouldn’t say there are too many surprises. We experienced a rampant performance in Perth last year when everything seemed to work well for them, so I think that’s the sort of game they’re aiming to play.”
— All Blacks (@AllBlacks) October 27, 2020
That Test – which the Wallabies won 47-26 – was also a reminder for the All Blacks as they prepare for what can happen when things fall into place for Australia and don’t go to plan, physically and emotionally, for the All Blacks, he said.
Having missed the first international of 2020 in Wellington through injury, Barrett said he enjoyed the second Test at Eden Park. He felt a lot better than in previous weeks with the niggle he had been working hard on.
It had also been enjoyable to play afternoon rugby on a good day, and surface, with the ball in hand and to play the sort of game he loved to play.
“It is an exciting challenge we’ve got coming up. At the moment the conditions over here aren’t too great, so, we could be faced with some wet weather footy, and we are preparing well at the moment,” added Barrett.
Australia were an improving side and were a strong team under Rennie, and the All Blacks had a lot of respect both for their rivals and the work their coach was doing with them.
“We can’t focus too much on them either, we’ve got to look after our backyard and keep growing as All Blacks in 2020,” said Barrett.
He feels being able to travel was a novelty, and the side had enjoyed their first few days in Sydney.
Having to leave his baby daughter at home for five weeks was a new experience, but Barrett believes it gave him more drive to succeed and it was his reason, his purpose, and his why, to train hard and do everything to achieve that success for them.
“It is hard, but it is a sacrifice we have all had to make,” he said.