All Blacks want to take 'game to another level' - Beauden Barrett

Various Irish players have developed a liking for the electric scooters around Auckland’s CBD, a mode of transport which they may feel beats walking the hills to and from the gym – two wheels better than two legs, and all that.

Beauden Barrett seeks to spark the All Black attack against Ireland at Eden Park.

It may be fitting then that this Saturday under the roof in Dunedin the All Blacks will aim to put the Irish on the skids as they seek the high tempo in perfect conditions that they reached occasionally during Saturday’s Eden Park demolition, but not enough for their liking.

As No.10 Beauden Barrett said in the deep south two days after the 42-19 win: “We want to take our game to another level.”

After claiming a one-nil lead in the series, captain Sam Cane hinted at his side’s liking for a fast-paced game which allows the All Blacks' natural advantages of speed of thought and feet as well as high skill level to take full effect.

"The boys were breathing pretty heavily in the back end of the second half.

"Those are the areas and times in games where we really back ourselves to work hard and make the most of every opportunity we can."

Virtually every match in Dunedin's covered stadium is played at a high pace, and the All Blacks couldn’t ask for a better venue to seek to wrap up the series against an Irish team that may be without their captain and linchpin Jonny Sexton.

Read more: 'He's a freak' - All Blacks left in awe of Ardie Savea's try

Ten years ago, in Beauden Barrett’s first year with the All Blacks, the Irish played the second Test of the three-Test series in Christchurch after losing the first one in comprehensive fashion in Auckland.

The Garden City put on very different conditions to those the All Blacks experienced at the Garden of Eden – most of those who were present will never forget how cold it was nor indeed how the frigid temperatures left car windscreens frozen over.

Dan Carter was one of the All Blacks’ heroes that night, his very late dropped goal helping his side to a 22-19 victory, before the All Blacks crushed the Irish 60-0 in Hamilton the following weekend.

Ian Foster’s men, who have welcomed Covid cases David Havili, Jack Goodhue and Will Jordan back into the squad after their period of isolation ruled them out of the first Test, will be hoping to bypass the Christchurch experience of 10 years ago and go straight to the Hamilton one.

"We’ve already identified many areas to get better in," Barrett said. "I think that’s encouraging, knowing we’re playing down here. Obviously, there were some missed opportunities at the weekend.

Skipper Sam Cane feels the full force of Garry Ringrose's shoulder in the All Blacks' win at Eden Park.

"They [Ireland] will raise their intent again this week because I guess it is do or die – the series is on the line this weekend."

It’s unlikely that Foster and his fellow selectors will want to change too much this week in terms of personnel.

Cane said last week after Jordan’s Covid diagnosis that he would likely be available for the third Test in Wellington, and with the midfield of Quinn Tupaea and Rieko Ioane performing well at Eden Park and Sevu Reece in excellent form, Foster may go with the status quo.

"They’re back and it’s great to see them back," Barrett said of the returning trio. "It was a tough week for those individuals.

"It means we can have a really good training week – that’s guaranteed. Last week we were a little down on training numbers and had to bring people in, and obviously it brings more experience having Jack and Dave and Will back in the squad.

"It’s competitive – who knows when it comes to selection who will be out there, but I know that everyone is keen to get their opportunity."

Barrett, in supreme Super Rugby form this season until the Blues ran into the Crusaders’ juggernaut, said he was reasonably happy with his form on his return to the black jersey.

His kick through for Tupaea’s try was a triumph in terms of execution and understanding with his No.12 – but he is invariably his own harshest critic.

"I missed a couple of opportunities in our phase play – a lot of it’s to do with our connections and seeing the same pictures and getting that alignment, so hopefully if I get the opportunity on Saturday I’ll take those and not sit here on a Monday kicking myself after reviewing it," he said.