Commentary Box: Jordie Barrett reveals the area the All Blacks need to work on in Springboks rematch


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From the torrent of top-spinning spiral bombs raining down on him to sweetly striking the historic match-winner, Jordie Barrett stood tall as a decisive figure for the All Blacks in their nervy victory over the Springboks.
Barrett, with adrenaline pulsing through his veins, struggled to sleep on Saturday night after slotting the 43-metre penalty to hand the All Blacks their 19-17 win in the 100th test against the Boks, a result that also secured the Rugby Championship title in Townsville.
Prior to that, though, it was a torrid outing for the All Blacks back three. While Barrett embraced attempting to defuse the relentless high ball barrage, he admits the All Blacks must improve in this area before the Boks unleash another inevitable aerial assault next weekend.
Part of the examination the All Blacks back three confronted was not only the volume of kicks but the spin Boks halfback Faf de Klerk applied to the ball. It's not uncommon for first five-eighths to hoist spiral bombs - much less so for halfbacks to pull off such trickery so regularly from the base.
"I have had that before, just in moderation. I've never had that many contestable kicks to deal with in a game," Barrett said after the All Blacks relocated to the Gold Coast where they meet the Boks on Saturday. "It is hard to combat but it's a challenge I was relishing. Every time they set up for a box kick I knew it was a chance to own the space in the air.
"We've got to find some ways to combat that because they throw all sorts of different scenarios at us. They are doing it from their attacking 22 and putting it on the head of isolated guys with plenty of chasers so it can be hard to deal with, but this week we've got plenty of time to come up with a plan."
In lieu of any attack, the Boks' steadfast commitment to kicking involved varying the placement and length. Short kicks proved particularly difficult to counter, as it requires those in the backfield to weave through multiple bodies in heavily congested areas before leaping for the ball.
"It's hard enough trying to create your own space when those kicks are shorter so the positioning in the first place is crucial so you're there early. You also want to generate enough pace and speed to get in the air. They do it well. They have one rocket chaser that gets in the air and disrupts and then they've got their big forwards waiting there to smash you as soon as you hit the ground so it is a challenge."
Barrett, naturally, went into bat for teammate George Bridge, who shelled several high balls including one that gifted Boks wing Sbu Nkosi the response to Will Jordan's opening try.
"It was very uncharacteristic of George. We all watch him at training every week and he literally catches everything. In that game a couple of minutes later he took a near impossible catch right on the sideline. I didn't say too much to him, I know what he's capable of, so it was about getting on with what's coming. It didn't take too long before the ball was back on his head. We were expecting it, but we've got to be able to deal with it.
"We weren't as good as we would have liked as a unit but we took enough to win that test match in the end."
Seemingly settled in his preferred fullback role, Barrett has assumed the goal kicking duties from brother Beauden in recent weeks. His clutch strike with three minutes remaining, following Quinn Tupaea's breakdown penalty, vindicated the decision to hand him the tee.
Jordie Barrett kicked the winning penalty against the Springboks. Photo / Photosport
Somewhat surprisingly, given the occasion, Barrett suppressed any nerves as he stepped up to take the shot. Only after connecting did an ounce of doubt creep in.
"I was about 30 metres back in my defensive position at fullback but I was running forward as soon as I saw Quinn get over the ball - even before the referee put his arm up. Ardie [Savea] knew as soon as we won the turnover it was in my range so I didn't even communicate with him I just wen...

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