Has Bar­rett's bub­ble burst?

As the All Blacks get set to take on the Spring­boks tonight, first five­eighth Beau­den Bar­rett is un­der the mi­cro­scope. Rugby writer Steve Hep­burn takes a look at what all the fuss is about.

Otago Daily Times - - Front Page -

AC­CU­SA­TION ‘‘His goal­kick­ing

is not up to it’’

Bar­rett kicked at just 56% in this year’s Su­per Rugby com­pe­ti­tion, though the ma­jor­ity of kick­ing for the Hur­ri­canes was done by his younger brother, Jordie.

Big brother Beau­den missed some of cru­cial shots at goal against the Lions but over­all in test rugby he is sit­ting at about a 70% suc­cess rate.

He kicked ev­ery goal un­der the roof at Forsyth Barr Sta­dium last month.

A re­turn of 70% is good enough but many of his con­tem­po­raries are up to 80% and be­yond.

Ver­dict: He is still slot­ting seven out of 10 kicks at goal. Not bad. Al­ter­na­tively, maybe for Beau­den’s sake, ev­ery test in New Zealand should be at Forsyth Barr Sta­dium.

‘‘Pass is too slow’’

This is stretch­ing it a bit. All the Sonny Bill Wil­liams de­fend­ers are blam­ing the strug­gles of the big man on the slow ser­vice in­side him.

Bar­rett has got plenty of tricks up his sleeve and throws some great passes. His poor ser­vice did not seem to im­pact those play­ing out­side him at the Hur­ri­canes, as the out­side backs racked up the tries this sea­son.

Ver­dict: Codswal­lop.

‘‘Not find­ing the gaps any more’’

It is true that Bar­rett is not light­ing it up as well as he did last year.

But have a look around you peo­ple. Is it rain­ing to­day? It must be. It has rained nearly ev­ery day since May and in ev­ery ev­ery sin­gle test played this year at home, apart from, ob­vi­ously, in Dunedin.

Wet weather has a mas­sive im­pact on games. The gaps are not there, as ev­ery­one has been slowed down by rain. Gaps of­ten ap­pear through the sleight­of­hand of play­ers. But when it rains those hands can no longer work their magic.

Ver­dict: A se­lec­tive mind can work in many ways. Flimsy.

‘‘Too ill­dis­ci­plined’’

Bar­rett could play poker with all the yel­low cards he has picked up this year. Five in to­tal, his lat­est com­ing against Ar­gentina last week. Some of them are un­lucky but he does tend to wan­der into silly po­si­tions when his team is on de­fence.

Quite a few of th­ese have been team yel­low cards to stop a try be­ing scored.

Ver­dict: Needs to brush up on his be­hav­iour and back the de­fen­sive sys­tems of the team.

‘‘Can’t tackle’’

When was it im­por­tant that a first five­eighth had to tackle?

No­one wear­ing a jer­sey with the No 10 on it should be se­lected on his de­fen­sive abil­ity.

Bar­rett was a turn­stile a cou­ple of years ago but has im­proved his tack­ling tech­nique.

Ver­dict: No Trevor Gillmeis­ter but does not need to be.

The Judge’s de­ci­sion

Bar­rett is still the best first five­eighth in the coun­try. He had a dream year in 2016 but de­fences are bet­ter this sea­son. Im­proved line speed from op­po­nents is blunt­ing Bar­rett’s im­pact on games and he is very much a marked man. He is not helped by some sloppy ser­vice in­side him at times.

Bar­rett is still class if not, per­haps, in top­drawer form. But class is per­ma­nent.

Beau­den Bar­rett

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