Bar­rett se­lec­tion a big hint at line-out plan

Hansen rel­e­gates Cane to bench af­ter re­call­ing Twick­en­ham game, says Daniel Schofield in Tokyo

The Daily Telegraph - Sport - - Rugby World Cup -

Steve Hansen is a mas­ter in the art of the un­der­state­ment. Asked whether Scott Bar­rett’s im­pact off the bench against Eng­land last year at Twick­en­ham in­flu­enced his se­lec­tion for to­mor­row’s semi-fi­nal, the New Zealand head coach replied drolly: “It had a wee bit to do with it.”

Rest as­sured, that per­for­mance will have fig­ured front and cen­tre of Hansen’s thoughts. This is Bar­rett’s first start at blind­side flanker. His pre­vi­ous 16 came in the sec­ond row. Last year, how­ever, he was a de­ci­sive in­flu­ence when com­ing on as a back-row re­place­ment against Eng­land, pro­vid­ing the All Blacks with a fourth jumper in the line-out.

Eng­land ended up los­ing five of their own throws, re­duc­ing their line-out per­cent­age to 67, the worst of the en­tire Ed­die Jones era. In Au­gust, head coach Jones seemed to sug­gest that he would be forced to change the com­po­si­tion of his back row if they faced the All Blacks in the World Cup.

“We played New Zealand in Novem­ber and they schooled us in the sec­ond half in the line-out,” Jones said. “They had Bar­rett, [Kieran] Read, [Sam] White­lock, [Brodie] Re­tal­lick and we couldn’t win the ball. Against New Zealand, we have to have a jump­ing back-rower.”

Yet Jones has kept the same back row of Tom Curry – whose line-out jump­ing has im­proved sig­nif­i­cantly – Sam Un­der­hill and Billy Vu­nipola that has served him so well in the tour­na­ment. Mean­while, New Zealand will start with the same loose-for­ward com­bi­na­tion that com­pleted their 16-15 vic­tory at Twick­en­ham. Co­in­ci­dence? No chance, par­tic­u­larly as Hansen

failed to pro­vide a full ex­pla­na­tion for Sam Cane’s de­mo­tion to the re­place­ment bench.

“[The se­lec­tion] is strate­gic, not on form, be­cause Sam has been play­ing lovely rugby,” Hansen said. “How­ever, we have made some de­ci­sions on what we want to do and how we want to play. The ob­vi­ous thing [Bar­rett brings] is that he’s a line-out for­ward. So, that adds to our ball-car­ry­ing abil­ity.”

As Hansen in­di­cated, Bar­rett, who re­placed Cane at half-time of New Zealand’s 46-14 quar­ter-fi­nal vic­tory against Ire­land, is more than a mere jumper. Cane’s main at­tribute is his de­fen­sive stop­ping power, which places an even greater em­pha­sis on Re­tal­lick, only just back from in­jury, to set the phys­i­cal tone for the All Blacks.

It also means for the sec­ond suc­ces­sive knock­out game, New Zealand have all three Bar­rett brothers in their squad – Scott, Beau­den, who starts at full-back, and Jordie, who is on the bench. The trio were of­fered the op­por­tu­nity to re­turn to New Zealand for the fu­neral of their grand­fa­ther, Ted, on the Wed­nes­day be­fore the quar­ter­fi­nal against Ire­land. They de­clined but their fa­ther, Kevin, re­turned in time to watch his sons play.

“Last week was a tough week for him and for our­selves, so it was awe­some to share that mo­ment with him and for him to be over sup­port­ing us,” Beau­den said.

While there are many sets of brothers play­ing in in­ter­na­tional rugby, few are as ver­sa­tile as the Bar­retts, who can cover any­where out­side the front row.

For the first time since they were chil­dren, Scott is room­ing with Beau­den this week be­fore the big­gest game of their ca­reers. “He’s a bit big­ger since the top bunk he slept in. He prob­a­bly wouldn’t fit it any more,” Beau­den said.

“It’s great to room with him. He’s clearly got his rugby cap on be­cause the other night he was sleep-talk­ing and was call­ing out the line-out moves.”

Reach for the sky: Eng­land’s Brad Shields (top) and All Black Scott Bar­rett con­test a line-out at Twick­en­ham last Novem­ber

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK

© PressReader. All rights reserved.