'When you do lose in an All Black jersey it's never nice. We can draw from those experiences'

'When you do lose in an All Black jersey it's never nice. We can draw from those experiences'
Beauden Barrett. Picture: Inpho

Beauden Barrett doesn't tend to lose too many games in a black jersey so the reversals stick in the mind.

The All Blacks defeat to Ireland in Chicago was just his third in five years of test rugby. Only two more have followed since so the New Zealand out-half has no illusions as to the task facing the world champions when the sides meet again in Dublin this weekend.

“Absolutely, yeah,” he said on Tuesday afternoon. “When you do lose in an All Black jersey it's never nice. We can draw from those experiences - just a small reminder of how we felt in that changing room – to always respect Ireland.

“Also, (to) know they're a smart team. They'll throw a few things at us we've never seen before. Also, they're playing well, they're very creative, so that gets us in a good mental spot for this coming week and whenever we'll play them in the future.”

The last three meetings of these sides have demonstrated just how much the gap between the nations has shrunk - the points difference stands at 74-71 in New Zealand's favour - and assistant coach Ian Foster was keen to echo Barrett's platitudes.

“We're playing a team that is going to work hard on trying to suffocate us with possession,” Foster explained. “We have to make sure that when we get opportunities to get the ball that we're really efficient at that and that our set-piece goes well.

“And that when we do, that we play in a manner that we get a really good chance to attack them properly.

“In the past, they're a team that likes to hold onto the ball and play multi-phases against you. And when that doesn't work they'll go to an aerial game. We'll have to be on top of our games in most areas.”

It bears mentioning here that Ireland enjoyed just 35% possession when they were pipped 24-22 by the Kiwis back in 2013, 38% in Chicago three years later and yet a massive 75% when falling a dozen points short two weeks after that.

Ireland face the Haka in Chicago in 2016.
Ireland face the Haka in Chicago in 2016.

Having the ball can sometimes be a disadvantage in this game.

The benefit of playing defence can be even greater when someone like Andy Farrell is in charge of the barricades. The Ireland defence coach has enjoyed considerable success against the world champions during his time here and with England and the British and Irish Lions.

“Whatever he brings from their defence system that's what he brings,” said Foster. “I'm not in their camp, I can't comment on that. But clearly it's a big part of their game. How Ireland go about defending, they defend with a lot of passion and their mindset is to put everything into it.

“We've seen it for a number of years. That's probably always been an Irish mindset, to be fair, but he seems to have brought a lot more accuracy to it. How he goes about it, I don't know. But clearly there's a lot of belief in what he does.”

It was a chipper Foster who spoke to the media but he was chippy at times too.

There has been some sniffiness in the Kiwi media about the volume of New Zealanders turning out for other nations in recent times and, though no-one on the All Blacks staff is saying as much, there is a suspicion that the brains trust has some sympathy with that view.

Bundee Aki will be the latest to cross their paths when the ex-Chiefs man is expected to line out alongside Garry Ringrose in Ireland's midfield this weekend but Foster didn't go along with the view that his boys would benefit from any insider info on the Connacht man.

Bundee Aki lining out for Ireland
Bundee Aki lining out for Ireland

“I don't think so. He had a few years with the Chiefs and played really, really well. He has been over here a while now and you have moulded him into an Irishman. He looks like an Irishman now, doesn't he? He plays the Irish way. There will be a couple of our guys who have probably played with him and know him personally but we are kind of getting used to that.”

A game between sides ranked numbers one and two in the world, it is a week where incremental advantages are being sought through the media, as when Jonathan Sexton spoke on Monday about the Irish side's knack of being penalised by Saturday's referee Wayne Barnes.

Foster gave short thrift to that one.

“ I'm not sure why he is saying that. Barnesie is a great ref.

“Johnny seems to give him a bit of advice on the park too so I'm sure he'll carry on doing that.”

The verbal sparring has been fascinating so far. Saturday will be better again.

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