Beauden Barrett says 50 per cent possession will be enough for the All Blacks to retain the Bledisloe Cup, delivering an ominous one-word response when asked for his confidence levels for a bounce-back win over Wallabies in Auckland.
Not normally one for bravado, classy five-eighth turned fullback Barrett said New Zealand’s new backline formation was ready to unleash on Saturday and only needed some ball.
Richie Mo’unga took over as All Blacks five-eighth in the 16-16 draw with South Africa in Wellington and stayed there for last week’s 47-26 thrashing by Australia in Perth, with Barrett finding his feet at fullback on both occasions.
New Zealand’s early struggles up front and lack of possession in both Tests meant the pair couldn’t get traction.
It left critics questioning why Barrett had been shifted from the role of general.
Barrett was wearing the No.10 jersey last year when he scored a world-record four tries in the demolition of Wallabies at Eden Park. He has twice been named world player of the year at five-eighth.
However, he has no qualms with the shift, having seen glimpses of the potential of the new structure late in the past two Tests.
“I’ve got so much faith in what we’re doing and the desire we have to play for each other,” he said.
“I’ve had a few games now in the 15 jersey. It’s understanding how Richie and I can work well together and that understanding is growing by the minute, by the day.
“You don’t want to be too cluttered. If we get to the point on Saturday where we’re playing with free heads and we’re instinctive, that’s where we want to be.”
An All Blacks team, reduced to 14 men, still conjured two second-half tries in Perth, including a slick team sequence finished by Barrett.
He said that try offered promise they were on the right track, attack-wise.
“Obviously, doing that was a challenge with 14. If we can get more ball with 15 men in our structure, I’m excited about what we can do.”
Crusaders star Mo’unga agreed the pair had made progress as a combination and had been boosted further after “bouncing ideas” this week at training with former All Blacks great Dan Carter.