Beauden Barrett will come off the bench against the Springboks, but the decision to start Lima Sopoaga in his place shouldn’t deter the Hurricane from knowing his worth to the All Blacks.
(Photo credit: Fiji Village via Google Images)
Some rugby commentators in New Zealand have said that Barrett hasn’t been able to get his kicking game to a point where it is just as potent as his running game.
Barrett is arguably the most dangerous first five in the country in terms of footwork and the ability to step through defenses, and his speed can match some of the fastest backs in world rugby.
The stats suggest that Barrett’s kicking game isn’t quite as bad as speculation suggests, it is actually holding up relatively well.
Barrett’s penalty success rate stands at 70%, but the conversion rate could use a little work, however it still isn’t too shabby.
Lima Sopoaga’s selection to start on All Black debut is a reward for outstanding form in Super Rugby this year; nothing more or less.
Lima Sopoaga hasn’t just captured the hearts of the New Zealand rugby-loving public, Steve Hansen and the All Black coaches are predicting great things for the Highlander and haven’t waited to give Sopoaga a start, and a start in a big match against the Springboks will be the biggest test that an All Black debutant can face.
But Barrett shouldn’t, and won’t be worried about his spot in the squad going through this season. He will be in the RWC, and coming off the bench in South Africa should actually let Barrett know that his presence later in matches and poise to bring the points home is well-valued by the All Black selectors.
Barrett has always been a regular bench warmer for the All Blacks, and has played his best rugby from this position.