The world champions ‘Boks triumphed 26-10 in the opening game last week to make it five defeats in their last six Test matches. You have to go back to 1998 for the last time they lost four games in a row.
Then they were beaten in five successive fixtures – 24-16, 27-23 and 19-14 by Australia, 13-3 and 24-23 by South Africa – to earn the joint equal tag of the worst New Zealand Test team of all time with the Class of 1949. Given they had class performers like Jonah Lomu, Christian Cullen, Jeff Wilson, Andrew Mehrtens, Justin Marshall, Ian Jones, Robin Brooke, Olo Brown and Michael Jones it hardly seems possible.
That’s why getting back to winning ways is so key for current under fire head coach Ian Foster. Remember how close Wales got to winning their series in South Africa earlier this summer, losing rthe first Test in overtime, winning the second and then just falling short in the third?
Well, Wayne Pivac’s next Test assignment will be against the All Blacks in November! Everyone knows how long it is since Wales beat New Zealand, so to see them wobbling should give some encouragement to the Wales coach.
Barrett’s two brothers, second row Scott and full back Jordie, remain in the starting line-up at Ellis Park and Beauden is at least on the bench. That is despite fears he had suffered a severe injury after landing head-first in the wake of a terrible mid-air challenge during New Zealand’s heavy defeat in the first meeting.
The All Blacks playmaker was upended by Springboks wing Kurt-Lee Arendse while attempting to take a high-ball. Arendse received a red card for his actions and a four-game suspension.
“It was quite a big collision, and I did think the worst instantly – especially when I was on the ground and – I can’t remember who it was – told me to stay still,” said Barrett in a video released by the All Blacks.
“It wasn’t until (the doctor) came on and asked me, ‘Can you move your fingers? Your toes?’ I was relieved to have passed those tests. I eventually sat up and was able to walk off and get on with it.
“But there was a fearful period there for a minute or so where you do think of the worst. It’s quite scary when you go over backwards, and you find yourself come down on your head and shoulders.”
Crusaders outside half Richie Mo’unga has stepped up to fill Barrett’s No 10 jersey and Foster has made three more changes to his starting XV. Props Ethan de Groot and Tyrel Lomax replace George Bower, and Angus Ta’avao while blindside flanker Shannon Frizell has been drafted in over Akira Ioane.
New Zealand were physically taken to the cleaners by the Springboks during their defeat in Nelspruit, but they also lost the aerial battle with South Africa half-backs Jaden Hendrikse and Handre Pollard causing mayhem with their kicking game.
Barrett insists New Zealand will be better prepared for it this time around but also claims the All Blacks must do more to protect their teammates under the high ball.
“It’s something we expected from South Africa in terms of the high ball collision and contest. I don’t think they’ll change anything. We’ll continue to be courageous and get up,” he said.
“Our escorters have to …. legally stop that chaser from running a good line and allowing that mid-air collision.”
Two more of Wales’ autumn opponents, Argentina and Australia, go at it again in south America. The Wallabies were 41-26 winners in the first Test at Estadio Malvinas Argentinas.