Patrick McKendry is a rugby and boxing writer for the Herald.

All Blacks: Barrett shines in bruising battle

Beauden Barrett stood out. Photo / Greg Bowker
Beauden Barrett stood out. Photo / Greg Bowker

Dane Coles made the comment during the week that he quite likes the rough stuff, legal or otherwise.

It was a good thing the young hooker does, because last night's test was that and more, with three sinbinnings and one red card the most obvious signs. It was a throwback to another era when teams were prepared to step over the mark in order to get the job done.

Dan Carter lasted only 16 minutes before he departed with a shoulder injury thanks to an allegedly illegal tackle by hooker Bismarck du Plessis, who simply couldn't stay away from the action.


Sam Cane left the field with blood dripping from his face and Israel Dagg struggled with a leg injury after an off-the-ball collision with wing Bryan Habana.

Liam Messam copped an elbow to the windpipe from that man du Plessis, an act which sank Bismarck and effectively ended the match as a contest, although yellow cards to Kieran Read and Ma'a Nonu meant the All Blacks finished with 13 men.

Julian Savea took an accidental knee to the head. Even the granite tough Brodie Retallick needed attention on a shoulder.

If Coles, the 26-year-old Hurricanes player, does prove to be the future at hooker for the All Blacks, this match at Eden Park against the old foe is likely to have played a major part in his development - his and those of the others who came in with high expectations.

Cane was soon patched up. Like Coles, who struggled with his lineout throwing at times and probably lacked a bit of physicality at the breakdown - he was replaced by Keven Mealamu after 51 minutes - Cane will be better for this test.

Both would have found the collisions a step up on anything they had experienced, although the suspicion remains that Coles is too little to be a top operator at international level, especially when measured against the huge du Plessis.

The one player who should probably be happiest with his night's work is Carter's replacement Beauden Barrett.

Already seen in some circles as someone who will overtake Aaron Cruden as Carter's back-up, Barrett didn't have the happiest of starts when missing touch from a defensive penalty. That was quickly forgotten in what was almost his next touch of the ball, a run which he darted in and out of the Boks' defence, a shimmy getting him past the first line and a surprisingly powerful fend getting rid of fullback Zane Kirchner, a 60m move which finished in Retallick's try.


Barrett was composed and tough, crucial elements in a bad-tempered slugfest. A kick for touch over his left shoulder in broken play found touch superbly, he was knocked heavily when carrying the ball but ploughed on. He showed intelligence and a fair bit of power in defence. The only black marks were a couple of missed shots at goal.

Charles Piutau, on for the limping Dagg, showed industry and confidence and will remember this test fondly, but it is 22-year-old Barrett, in his 11th test, who deserves the plaudits in a match which was played to, and over, the edge from start to finish.


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