Saturday 16 December 2017

Barrett sounds warning bells ahead of 'Hurricane Savea'

Hugh Farrelly

IRELAND, be warned, there is a Hurricane coming.

That was the message from New Zealand's latest out-half prospect Beauden Barrett, who claims Ireland will have their hands full trying to contain his Hurricanes team-mate Julian Savea in Saturday's first Test in Eden Park.

Barrett joined up with the All Blacks squad in Auckland yesterday and, while he says he is happy to adopt the role of "sponge" this month and soak up the advice of first-choice out-half Dan Carter, he expects his fellow 21-year-old Savea to go straight into the Test team and torment the Irish.

"He is such a threat with ball in hand," said Barrett. "It is great to play inside guys like that. He can chip, he can run around guys or he can run over them, there's no doubt the Irish will have to look out for him on Saturday."

Savea has been likened to All Black greats Jonah Lomu and Va'aiga Tuigamala, but the wing sensation -- one of the deadliest attackers in this year's Super 15 -- says his inspiration growing up was of a more recent vintage.

"I always looked up to Joe Rokocoko, I loved how he played," said Savea of the New Zealand winger, who starred in the 2003 and 2007 World Cup competitions.

"I think the first time I met him was Hurricanes Schools when he gave out our medals and I was pretty star-struck when he gave the medal."

While Savea is widely expected to make his Test debut against Ireland, the player himself is making no such assumptions, but says he is prepared to take the opportunity if it presents itself.

"I feel like I am ready," he said. "I think that is why the coaches have picked the new players, I am just going to get stuck into this week and hopefully I will get my chance."

As for Barrett, the young playmaker also feels equipped to step up if called upon but accepts, for the first Test at least, that he is third in line for the No 10 jersey behind Carter and Aaron Cruden.

"Just to make the squad, it's a huge achievement, it's very humbling to be here," said Barrett.

"But I'm ready. I've just come off a good win over the Waratahs. We've had a pretty good season at the Hurricanes.

"Even though we've set some high expectations we've still had some great victories and I'll take a lot of confidence from that. I like having my hands on the ball and directing the ship.

"If it's next week I'll grab it with two hands but if it's a bit later down the track I'll be more than happy as well," said Barrett on the prospect of making his New Zealand debut against Ireland.

"I'm just willing to be the sponge, learn and soak up the environment and advice. It's exciting times."

After last weekend's Super 15 exertions, New Zealand had a light day's preparation yesterday, taking time out to pay a surprise visit to a local school where they helped with the girls team training session. Coach Steve Hansen names his side to face Ireland on Thursday.

Irish Independent

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