Rugby

Barrett ready for 'weird' Shields reunion

2018-11-09 09:06
Beauden Barrett (Getty)

London - New Zealand star Beauden Barrett has admitted it will be both "exciting" and "weird" to play against his former Hurricanes team-mate Brad Shields when the All Blacks face England at Twickenham on Saturday. 

The 27-year-old Shields was born and raised in New Zealand but to English parents. 

Having failed to gain selection for the All Blacks, the flank was catapulted into the England set-up, winning the first of his three Test caps against South Africa in Johannesburg in June. 

"It's very exciting," said Barrett when asked about playing against Shields. 

"I don't know how I feel about it. It's going to be weird. Hopefully I don't see him out there too much because he's a big brute and he'll probably try to line me up." 

Shields temporarily lodged at flyhalf Barrett's home in Wellington before flying to England to join new club Wasps. 

Barrett, after his superb four-try haul against Australia in August, returned to discover Shields had left him an unusual present - his England training top. 

"It's still there," Barrett added on Thursday. "I didn't bring it over with me, but yeah, it was quite cheeky of him." 

But the serious point illustrated by Shields' inclusion in England's back-row is that New Zealand boast a wealth of rugby talent not all of which can be accommodated by the world champion All Blacks. 

For example, England co-captain Dylan Hartley was born and brought up in New Zealand before the hooker headed to his mother's homeland as a teenager. 

Meanwhile former All Blacks head coach John Mitchell recently joined the England set-up as Australian boss Eddie Jones' new defence guru. 

Warren Gatland is the long-serving Kiwi coach of Wales, with compatriot Joe Schmidt guiding Ireland to a Six Nations Grand Slam last season. 

Steve Hansen, the New Zealand head coach, said Shields was in for an "emotional" time on Saturday. 

"He's going to be facing a team he always wanted to play for but unfortunately for him we didn't pick him," he explained. 

"Some of his great mates are in that team," added Hansen, who was himself in charge of Wales before returning home to join the All Blacks' staff, initially as an assistant to Graham Henry. 

"He will find it emotional...he's a quality man, a good rugby player, and he will deal with it in his own way. 

"But it will tug at his heart-strings. You wouldn't be human if it didn't." 

As for his own experience of coaching Wales against New Zealand, Hansen said: "It wasn't that pleasant because we got thumped. It's emotional." 

But he said the much-travelled Mitchell, sacked as All Blacks boss after their 2003 World Cup semi-final defeat by an Australia-coached Jones in a tournament eventually won by England, would find this weekend's match less of a strain. 

"John has been away from New Zealand for a long time, so I don't know if he still harbours those emotions." 

Hansen added there was no secret as to why New Zealanders were in demand as either players or coaches at wealthy leading European clubs and countries. 

"I don't want to sound big-headed but I think it's because they want success," said the 59-year-old. 

"A lot of the New Zealand ingredients bring success to clubs. The players have been successful, hence they pay good money for them or the coach is someone they think can impart successful knowledge to the players. 

"Success breeds success - and creates a lot of myths or a lot of truths. You get employed and you have to make sure it is truths not myths."

Players to watch:

For England: The consensus is that the Red Rose will need to score tries to get close to New Zealand and in Chris Ashton they have one of the best in the business. The Sale Sharks wing made a positive impression on his return to the side last weekend – his first appearance in a white shirt for four years - and they will look for more of that on Saturday. Ashton seemed to have license to roam against South Africa, producing a couple of nice passes to open space on the outside, and his ability to track the ball and potential breaks from team-mates will be a threat should England get on the front foot.

For New Zealand: Most of the All Blacks' qualities are well known but it will be a first chance to see Jack Goodhue on European soil after impressing in the Rugby Championship. The Crusaders centre is a huge talent and was instrumental in the franchise's back-to-back Super Rugby triumphs. Goodhue reads the game incredibly well and, in the mould of Conrad Smith, often makes the right decision, but the 23-year-old is a better athlete than his predecessor, which makes him an exceptional prospect.

Head-to-head: England's scrum held up better than most expected last weekend, even if they were under pressure in the first-half, but facing New Zealand’s front five is even more intimating. Most of the praise that goes the All Blacks' way centres around their athleticism and skill level in the loose, but the set-piece is incredibly well drilled. That quality of coaching is displayed in prop Karl Tu'inukuafe's progress, who is a rookie in professional rugby terms let alone at international level, but it will be a huge ask for Kyle Sinckler to negate the loosehead’s power and technique. On the opposite side, Owen Franks is one of world's best scrummagers while Ben Moon only made his debut against South Africa. Should the Red Rose get parity, however, then they do have the talent behind the scrum to cause the world champions problems, but whether the hosts are competitive will depend on the set-piece.

Previous results:

2014: New Zealand won 24-21 in London
2014: New Zealand won 36-13 in Hamilton
2014: New Zealand won 28-27 in Dunedin
2014: New Zealand won 20-15 in Auckland
2013: New Zealand won 30-22 in London
2012: England won 38-21 in London
2010: New Zealand won 26-16 in London
2009: New Zealand won 19-6 in London

Teams:

England

15 Elliot Daly, 14 Chris Ashton, 13 Henry Slade, 12 Ben Te'o, 11 Jonny May, 10 Owen Farrell (co-captain), 9 Ben Youngs, 8 Mark Wilson, 7 Sam Underhill, 6 Brad Shields, 5 George Kruis, 4 Maro Itoje, 3 Kyle Sinckler, 2 Dylan Hartley (co-captain), 1 Ben Moon

Substitutes: 16 Jamie George, 17 Alec Hepburn, 18 Harry Williams, 19 Charlie Ewels, 20 Courtney Lawes, 21 Danny Care, 22 George Ford, 23 Jack Nowell

New Zealand

15 Damian McKenzie, 14 Ben Smith, 13 Jack Goodhue, 12 Sonny Bill Williams, 11 Rieko Ioane, 10 Beauden Barrett, 9 Aaron Smith, 8 Kieran Read (captain), 7 Ardie Savea, 6 Liam Squire, 5 Brodie Retallick, 4 Sam Whitelock, 3 Owen Franks, 2 Codie Taylor, 1 Karl Tu'inukuafe

Substitutes: 16 Dane Coles, 17 Ofa Tu'ungafasi, 18 Nepo Laulala, 19 Scott Barrett, 20 Matt Todd, 21 TJ Perenara, 22 Richie Mo'unga, 23 Ryan Crotty

Read more on:    england  |  all blacks  |  beauden barrett  |  rugby
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