Saturday 20 January 2018

Hansen calls for calm after Barrett has another off-day from the tee

Barrett struggled from the tee against the Lions. Photo: Reuters/Nigel Marple
Barrett struggled from the tee against the Lions. Photo: Reuters/Nigel Marple

Nigel Whittaker

Steve Hansen has defended Beauden Barrett's goal-kicking after the All Blacks maintained their 100pc start to the Rugby Championship when seeing off Argentina 39-22.

Barrett struggled from the tee against the Lions and although he bounced back well in the recent wins over Australia, the out-half had another off-day against the Pumas.

The current World Player of the Year missed three conversions in a row which prompted Lima Sopoaga to take over the kicking duties.

"Just get one thing straight, it is not about not liking the question, it is just about you guys being fair," Hansen snapped.

"That was my point - I think you can criticise the kid when he misses and give him a pat on the back when he doesn't. We won a Test in Dunedin on goal-kicking.

"When Barrett kicks well he kicks everything. When he doesn't, he misses two or three and that's the process. Do you know when he is going to kick the lot? I don't.

"I have no idea but the problem is that we have got to work our way through. He is getting a better picture on how and why and when it is happening.

"We have just got to trust that he is going to come right and we have got other kickers that can help if we need them to."

The All Blacks were given another scare by the winless Pumas, who held a 22-15 second-half advantage. Nehe Milner-Skudder and Anton Lienert-Brown scored early tries for New Zealand but six points from the boot of Nicolas Sanchez and a huge penalty from Emiliano Boffelli kept the visitors in touch.

Israel Dagg went over before the break to extend the lead only for Sanchez to touch down on the last play of the half. Everything appeared to be going Argentina's way when Barrett was sin-binned and Sanchez put them seven points clear, but the 14-man All Blacks drew level through Vaea Fifita's converted score.

The game was still in the balance with 20 minutes remaining but tries from Damian McKenzie and Barrett either side of a Sopoaga penalty gave New Zealand a third straight win.

Elsewhere, South Africa also maintained their unbeaten start but Bernard Foley's penalty 10 minutes from time secured an entertaining 23-23 draw for Australia in Perth.

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