The fabulous Barrett boys: New Zealand’s humble rugby superstars

first_imgRugby World Cup 2019 Ugo Monye Since you’re here… The Barrett boys have been bunking down together this week. Scott and Beauden, who are both in the starting XV, have been roommates for the first time since they shared the farm’s four-bed dorm in 2002. “Scott’s clearly got his rugby head on,” Beauden says, “because the other night he was calling out lineout moves in his sleep.” They don’t seem to agree which of them used to get the top bunk back home, except that it definitely wasn’t little brother Jordie, who is on the bench this weekend.The change of rooms is not the only switch Scott has made lately. He is starting at blindside flanker for the first time, too. He usually does most of his training with the locks, but this week he has been a full-time member of the back row. The All Blacks’ management are clearly thinking of that game at Twickenham last November, when England were five points up at half-time. Scott came on in the 50th minute and did such a number on England’s lineout that they lost five of their next 10 throws. New Zealand ended up winning 16-15.“It’s quite nice to be rooming with him,” Scott said, “and to chat about stuff to prepare for this game.” It’s a shrewd move by the management, and clever, too, to stick him in with his big brother before the biggest game of his life. They have got a good understanding of the brothers’ family dynamics, which the hooker, Dane Coles, explains this way: “Jordie is a psycho, because he’s been bullied by Scott. So when we play darts in the team room, Jordie loses his guts when he throws one bad dart. Then Scott’s the one who’s nice and calm, and Baz is in-between. He loses it now and again but he does have that calm karma about him.”“Yeah, we’re all pretty competitive,” Beauden admits. “But you’d probably find more rivalry on the lawn at home in the summertime playing backyard cricket than you would in camp. We all play in different positions so it’s hard to compare.” Jordie might not quite agree with that. He played No 15 in his first seven Tests, but now Beauden has moved back there he has been squeezed on to the wing or been busy filling in at fly-half. It can’t be easy competing with your big brother for a spot in the team, especially when he is the best player in the world. Was this helpful? Facebook Share on Messenger Pinterest Share on LinkedIn Quick guide New Zealand team to face England in World Cup semi-final Share on WhatsApp Read more Share on Twitter The Breakdown: sign up and get our weekly rugby union email. The All Blacks have had a pack of Japanese journalists following them around this World Cup. They are the only team who have hired a full-time go-between to translate every last question and answer, which says plenty about their attention to detail and just as much about their desire to crack the Japan market. There is a five-minute slot set aside for their questions at the end of every press conference, and over the weeks, there has been one that has come up over and again. It’s the same question we all ask at one time or another, the one Eddie Jones is convinced he knows the answer to: “What makes you so good?”This week it was Scott Barrett’s turn to field it. Barrett is not a bad man to ask, because whatever they were doing down on the little dairy farm in Taranaki where he, Beauden, and Jordie grew up, it clearly worked. He said it was to do with the ball skills they learned playing different sports – “cricket, basketball, athletics, hockey” – but I prefer his father Kevin’s answer: “It must be something in the milk.” Turns out you really can bottle it. The only surprise is the NZRU has not started flogging it. It was only last week that one of its regional partners, Mitsubishi, announced the launch of a limited-edition range of All Blacks themed SUVs. Beauden Barrett (near) and his brother Jordi talk to the media ahead of the semi-final. Photograph: Tom Jenkins/The Guardian Back then, Beauden was still trying to nail down a spot in the All Blacks’ starting XV, Scott had just joined the Crusaders, and Jordie was in his first year at Lincoln University. There are two other brothers as well. Kane, the oldest of the lot, who was playing No 8 for the Auckland Blues until he had to retire because of concussion, and Blake, who is back playing for the local Coastal rugby club. And three sisters too, Jenna, who plays netball for Taranaki, Ella, and Zara, who has Down’s syndrome.Beauden, Jordie, and Scott spoke publicly about that for the first time this year, to help raise awareness of the charity UpsideDowns, which provides funding for speech-therapy services for children with Down’s syndrome. “If people could just treat those with Down’s syndrome equally, that’s all I’d ask,” said Beauden. Their parents treated all eight of them exactly the same, he explained. And that goes back to the most important lesson they learned down on the farm, the one that will serve them long after this match has come and gone. New Zealand B Barrett; S Reece, J Goodhue, A Lienert-Brown, G Bridge; R Mo’unga, A Smith; J Moody, C Taylor, N Laulala, B Retallick, S Whitelock, S Barrett, A Savea, K Read. Replacements D Coles, O Tuungafasi, A Ta’avao, P Tuipulotu, S Cane, TJ Perenara, S Williams, J Barrett. “You have got to realise that rugby is just a game, so enjoy it while you are there,” Kevin told me back then. “Always remember who you are and where you came from, and always keep your feet on the ground. Because the day you take your jersey off you’re just one of us.” You never met a humbler bunch of superstars. Like Coles says: “They’re good people, and they come from a great family.”center_img … we have a small favour to ask. 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This means we can give a voice to those less heard, explore where others turn away, and rigorously challenge those in power.We need your support to keep delivering quality journalism, to maintain our openness and to protect our precious independence. Every reader contribution, big or small, is so valuable. Support The Guardian from as little as $1 – and it only takes a minute. Thank you. Share via Email Support The Guardian Thank you for your feedback. Rugby union Reuse this content Show Share on Facebook features Topics Hide Rugby World Cup Share on Pinterest Twitter Their dad is pretty damn proud of them all, either way. The boys posed for a photo with him after the quarter-final against Ireland, which he watched from the stands. It has not been an easy few weeks. His father, Ted, died recently, and the boys had to decide whether or not they ought to go back for the funeral. They stayed, and after it was over he flew over to join them. “Last week was a tough week for Dad and for ourselves, so it was awesome to share that moment with him,” Beauden said. “It was obviously a tough time. The team were awesome around supporting us and always giving us the option to head home if that’s what we needed to do.”The trouble is, Jordie says, that now Kevin’s here he wants to tell them what to do. “I’m sure he’ll try to add his 10 cents in the next couple of days.” Kevin played flanker himself, for Taranaki and the Hurricanes, so Scott has got the worst of it. “As long as he doesn’t follow some of dad’s tactics from ’98. You probably can’t get away with it now.”Truth is, Kevin taught them all he knows a long time ago. When I went to visit the farm back in 2015, he explained that he thinks the big reason why his kids succeeded is that he made them drill the same basic set of skills when they were young, “How to kick with both feet, pass both ways, and run with the ball in both hands”. The big kick-off: England playmakers hold the key to beating New Zealand New Zealand rugby union teamlast_img

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