Beauden Barrett, the All Black who almost single-handedly destroyed the Wallabies at Eden Park as his side retained the Bledisloe Cup, hasn't scored four tries in a game since he was running around in bare feet as a seven-year-old.
But although it looked like child's play at times as the All Blacks No10 scored 30 points – a record haul against Australia – Barrett said it took time and work to break down the Wallabies. His friend and halfback TJ Perenara, who came on late in the piece, added that Barrett's performance was no accident either – it takes time and work to become as good as the 27-year-old is.
Asked whether the game just flowed the way Barrett wanted it to, he said: "It certainly didn't flow at times, especially in that first half. There were some loose moments. But if I look back, generally it was a pretty good game. It was a game we had to work hard in. I think scoring just before halftime was crucial. That's when you have to work the hardest; to win those small moments and battles with fatigue setting in. It was a satisfying performance."
Barrett, who scored two tries in each half, his second two long-range efforts which took him to near exhaustion, acknowledged the All Blacks targeted teams as halftime drew near.
They got the rewards in Sydney last weekend when halfback Aaron Smith went over for a crucial score and at Eden Park last night Barrett was put over the line by Smith in the 39th minute after a breakout by Codie Taylor and Ben Smith. It gave the home side a 14-7 lead, one they were never likely to relinquish.
"We're aware that teams typically drop off, especially at the end of the first half," Barrett said. "It's hard to keep that intensity right up there. Naturally you fatigue and so we challenge ourselves to just work that little bit harder, to keep the ball alive. It worked tonight and it worked last week. It comes down to workrate and believing.
"When you're thought-free you're out there in the moment, just doing it. That's when I'm at my best as an athlete and it's probably the same for everyone else. You're just in the zone… you're executing, you're all connected. You're all on the same level. The challenge as an athlete is how do you get there at the start of a game as often as you can."
His Hurricanes teammate Perenara was asked about the pressure Barrett had been under over the last month or so in responding to the challenge laid down by Crusaders rival Richie Mo'unga. The key, as Steve Hansen, said a day after the Sydney test, was to use the challenge as a positive to get better, and Barrett has certainly done that.
For Perenara, as for Barrett himself, talk is generally cheap.
"Beauden is a special player," Perenara said. "A lot of people over the last little while have been questioning him and his ability but I said it last week… no one should ever question what Baz does out on the field. A lot of stuff people say is to create attention and hype.
"There are always those who try to knock people down but I'm one of those people who … just looks in awe at what he can do and the work he puts in during the week enables him to do that stuff."
Asked what made Barrett the player he is, Perenara said: "Probably the top two inches.
He's one of the fastest players going around and one of the more skillful. He's also probably one of the most composed players I've ever seen. He doesn't let a lot bother him."
Barrett missed only two of the six conversion attempts, one of them after his long run in support of Ben Smith for his fourth try.
Barrett was clearly gasping for air afterwards, with referee Wayne Barnes chuckling and telling him he had only 90 seconds to take the kick.
"He was looking at me and laughing," Barrett said. "I probably could have taken a longer.
The message coming from the top was 'get Damian [McKenzie] to kick it' but he didn't come back… I was hoping that he would. I had nothing left in my pins."