All Black Barrett leaps to his own defence

Daniel Gilhooly,
Publish Date
Wednesday, 22 November 2017, 2:08PM

Scott Barrett wants to get his shoulder into another crack at the All Blacks after toiling away at the chink in his game.

The 15-Test lock is in line to return for Saturday's season-ending showdown with Wales in Cardiff on Saturday after a rare omission from the matchday 23 who beat Scotland.

Luke Romano took the starting spot alongside a third Crusaders lock, Sam Whitelock, at Murrayfield but a foot injury has scrubbed him out of contention.

Barrett is well aware his form dipped over the latter stages of the southern hemisphere season and at the start of the European tour but has identified his defensive shortcomings and addressed them front on.

"Just the tackle and getting into position. Maybe I haven't been as dominant as I'd like to be in those collisions so that's been a big focus for me," Barrett said.

"It's just breaking those habits. I'm getting some small improvements but I've still got a long way to go. I guess that's the challenge of becoming a better rugby player."

The 24-year-old burst onto the Test scene in athletic fashion during last year's northern hemisphere tour but the arduous nature of a full year of international rugby has been an eye-opener.

Unfurling a top-drawer performance in every match has been a challenge, most notably when thrust into the starting side for four successive matches following the withdrawal of powerhouse second-rower Brodie Retallick from the Test frame for personal reasons.

"You've got to be up for every week and that's probably been the biggest learning for me," Barrett said.

"Just being consistent throughout the week and just having a mental plan in place so you don't drift in some weeks."

Meanwhile, the amiable forward got a first-hand taste of the Welsh passion for rugby at a press conference on Tuesday.

He fielded a number of questions about his upbringing on a Taranaki farm as one of three boys who would go on to play Test rugby, alongside older brother Beauden and younger brother Jordie.

Another question related to the brothers' recent crowning as "Superstar Siblings" at the Australasian Nickelodean Kids' Choice Sports awards.

Barrett appeared nonplussed.

"You've probably got more idea what the award is for," he said.

"(Team-mate) Liam Squire was giving me a bit of stick, pumping me up saying 'you're the man, you're winning all these awards'.

"I don't even know what it's about so I'll try to play it down."



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