"Special" Barrett silences critics with Bledisloe blitz

The Rugby Championship
by Sam Phillips

No less than two weeks ago there was plenty of pressure on Beauden Barrett.

Richie Mo'unga had just steered the Crusaders to back-to-back Super Rugby titles and Barrett wasn't in the scintillating form we have come to expect for the Hurricanes.

Whether it was noise coming out of All Blacks camp or not is a matter for another day but Kiwi columnists came after him, some suggesting he was no longer the best No. 10 in New Zealand.

Fast forward two weeks and those whispers have been silenced.

Emphatically so.

His 30 point haul against the Wallabies at Eden Park was reward for 80 minutes of rugby perfection and coach Steve Hansen noted as much after retaining the Bledisloe for the 16th straight year.

"Beauden is a special player," Hansen said.

"We know that.

"He's been the World (Rugby) Player of the Year for the last two years and we understand everyone getting excited about Richie Mo'unga because we're excited about him.

"He's an outstanding young man and an outstanding young player and he's going to be great as the years go by but you can't buy experience and you can't buy minutes in the middle.

"Beauden has both of those and you saw tonight what happens when they all click together."

Barrett was breathtakingly good on Saturday night.

He glides across the turf with flawless balance and only needs half a gap to split the line and break the game open.

Add a pinpoint kicking game, impeccable decision making and the time he seems to have at his disposal and you have a weapon very few teams are capable of stopping.

"I think for me it's the stuff he is doing off the park," assistant coach Ian Foster said.

"It's the leadership and the preparation and he makes some stuff look easy and he makes it look like he is making it up as he goes along but he works really hard with guys around him during the week to think about when those opportunities are going to be.

"There is a lot of work going on behind the scenes and he is a very hard worker.

"I think on the park we're just playing around with trying to get him in some spots which are a bit different and the reason you can do is because he's quick and his pace is one of his key assets."

The performance barely registered as a blip for Barrett, which says plenty about his drive.

It was just another day at the office.

"To be fair, I wasn’t too worried about that – I was worried about finishing the game off strongly," Barrett said of his 30 point haul.

"Not worried about the scoreboard, just putting on pressure.

"I don’t know what the score was in the end - it was just good fun."