Town - All
Blacks flyhalf Beauden
Barrett has reflected his side's respect for Ireland ahead of
their highly-anticipated clash in Dublin on Saturday.
Barrett spent a year as an
eight-year-old living in Ireland and made his debut against the Emerald Isle in
2012. That three points (74-71) separates the All Blacks and Ireland since 2013
sums up the nature of what has fast become a fierce rivalry.
“We haven’t played Ireland at
home since . I’ve played them twice up here. It’s always tough. And once
in Chicago,” Barrett told the Irish
“That shows the strength of
Ireland and how far they have come. So yeah, they have improved a lot. We
respect them as a team.”
The world’s top two-ranked teams
will face off in Dublin this weekend and with it, two of the five candidates
for World Rugby Player of the Year will duel, in Barrett and Sexton.
Sexton should be ahead on points
over the reigning back-to-back winner and is in the box seat to claim the
award. 2018 has been Ireland’s year, and Sexton has been pivotal for the
national team and at domestic level with Leinster.
“Johnny, he’s not afraid of
pulling the trigger. He can execute some pretty good plays,” says Barrett. “He
likes to give the ball space. So I guess we are similar be it a cross-field
kick or a big pass. Yeah, he just has a great set of skills.
“I don’t know the head coach too
well, but I’ve played against [Andy] Farrell before and his defences,” he adds.
“I know him personally as well as [Greg] Feek. So it just shows in their game.
“You’ve seen it come on from
strength to strength in recent years. What I see is a dominant forward pack, a
well-organised side – they get the small details right in their game. They’re
very structured and they’ve got a good skillset to run ball in hand.”