Various Irish gamers have developed a taste for e-scooters around Auckland’s CBD, a mode of transport they can feel is better than walking the hills to and from the gym – two wheels are better than two legs, and all that.
So perhaps it’s fitting that this Saturday under the roof of Dunedin, the All Blacks are aiming to put the Irish on the skids as they seek the high pace in perfect conditions they have achieved occasionally in the demolition of Eden Park on Saturday, but not enough for their taste. .
As No. 10 Beauden Barrett said in the Deep South two days after the 42-19 victory: “We want to take our game to another level.”
After claiming a one zero lead in the series, captain Sam Cane hinted at his side’s taste for a fast game that allows the All Blacks’ natural advantages of speed of thought and feet as well as level of high skill to take full effect.
“The boys were breathing quite hard at the end of the second half.
“These are the areas and the times in the games where we really support each other to work hard and make the most of every opportunity we can.”
Virtually every game in Dunedin’s indoor stadium is played at a high pace, and the All Blacks couldn’t ask for a better venue to look to wrap up the series against an Irish side who may be without captain and pivot Jonny Sexton.
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A decade ago, in Beauden Barrett’s first year with the All Blacks, the Irish played the second Test of the three-Test series in Christchurch after losing the first aggregate in Auckland.
The Garden City presented very different conditions to those the All Blacks experienced at the Garden of Eden – most of those present will never forget how cold it was or how freezing temperatures froze the parks. -breaking cars.
Dan Carter was one of the All Blacks’ heroes that night, his late losing goal helping his side to a 22-19 victory, before the All Blacks crushed the Irish 60-0 at Hamilton at the weekend next.
Ian Foster’s men, who welcomed Covid cases David Havili, Jack Goodhue and Will Jordan to the squad after their period of isolation ruled them out of the first test, are hoping to circumvent the Christchurch experience ago 10 years and go straight to the Hamilton one.
“We have already identified many areas where we can improve,” Barrett said. “I think it’s encouraging knowing that we are playing here. Obviously there have been some missed chances this weekend.
“They [Ireland] will increase their intent again this week because I guess it’s do or die – the series is in play this weekend.”
Foster and his fellow managers are unlikely to want to change too much this week in terms of personnel.
Cane said last week after Jordan’s Covid diagnosis he would likely be available for the third Test in Wellington, and with Quinn Tupaea midfielder and Rieko Ioane performing at Eden Park and Sevu Reece in excellent form, Foster can go with the status quo.
“They’re back and it’s great to see them back,” Barrett said of the returning trio. “It’s been a tough week for these people.
“That means we can have a really good training week – that’s guaranteed. Last week we were a bit behind on the amount of training and we had to bring people in, and obviously that brings more experience of having Jack, Dave and Will back on the team.
“It’s competitive – who knows when it comes to selecting who will be there, but I know everyone is eager for their chance.”
Barrett, in supreme Super Rugby form this season until the Blues came up against the Crusaders juggernaut, said he was reasonably happy with his form on his return to the black shirt.
His kick for the Tupaea try was a triumph in terms of execution and comprehension with his No.12 – but he is invariably his own harshest critic.
“I’ve missed a few chances in our playing phase – it has a lot to do with our relationships and seeing the same pictures and getting that line-up, so hopefully if I get the chance on Saturday I’ll take it and I won’t sit here on a Monday kicking myself after looking at it,” he said.