Jim Kayes

Jim Kayes has been covering rugby since the late 1990s across print/online, radio and television with The Dominion Post,, TV3 and Newshub, Radio Live and Radio Sport.  He's been to five World Cups, covered almost 200 All Blacks Tests and was on safari with the Lions when the British and Irish side last toured New Zealand, in 2005.

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Jim Kayes: Many areas to be positive about

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Jim Kayes     17 Sep 2017     Getty Images

Foster suggested that of the many players he had coached, Barrett’s form was actually among the most consistent - the gap between his best and worst gaps much smaller than for many players.
The problem for Barrett - well for All Blacks fans really - is that Barrett at his best is brilliant and anything less than that just won’t do. In an era of instant gratification there is a demand for Barrett to be sublime every time he plays so three missed conversions from the sideline against Argentina were a catastrophe. The reality is Barrett went into the Test against South Africa having kicked at 80 per cent in his last 10 Tests - a rate any international goalkicker would be happy with.

The match at Albany was Barrett’s 21st at first five since the start of 2016 and must rate among one of his very best with his running, passing, pass-kicks, defence and, yes, goalkicking, having converted seven of the All Blacks eight tries and knocked over a penalty too. He was helped but an outstanding performance by the pack with the five established Test players - Kieran Read, Sam Cane, Brodie Retallick, Sam Whitelock and Dane Coles - all leading from the front.

Read was immense with his work rate, literally running himself to a stand still late in the match when he was forced to take a few minutes to catch his breath after making a try saving tackle under the posts. And if there is a better lock, with a bigger work rate than Retalllick then I’ve not watched him play. Retallick was McCaw-like with his presence around the field at North Harbour Stadium and his partner, Whitelock, wasn’t far behind.

It allowed Barrett to weave his magic and for wings Rieko Ioane and Nehe Milner-Skudder to reap the rewards on a night where almost everything the men in black touched turned to gold. Take Milner-Skudder’s try off the no-look pass by Barrett. A touch of genius - a Midas touch.

The 57-0 win was a record margin and record equalling score and it means the All Blacks have beaten South Africa by an average of 52-9 in their last three Tests. That’s not good for the game but it’s also not something the All Blacks can afford to worry about because any remedy is out of their hands.

The Springboks had gone into the Test confident. They had beaten France 3-0 at home in June, got past the Pumas in the Rugby Championship twice and then drawn with Australia who were unlucky not to have beaten the All Blacks in Dunedin.

This was, at last, going to be a nail biter, a Test where the All Blacks would be pushed all the way.

Instead it was by far the All Blacks best performance of the year and the 80 minute effort they, and their fans, had been waiting for. As good as the attack was, the defence was perhaps even better. That was only the third time since rugby turned professional after the 1995 World Cup that the All Blacks have kept South Africa to zero.

It was fitting that it happened in Wayne Smith’s final Test with the All Blacks in New Zealand after two decades of involvement. Smith’s current job with the team, is defence coach. He was, coach Steve Hansen said, pretty chuffed with South Africa’s tally. "He's sitting in there happy as a wee sandboy with a smile on his face as wide as the Grand Canyon," Hansen said at the post-match press conference. "He prides himself on it and when the team does stuff like that he's happy. He takes it very personally when people score against us. "His story is a lot bigger than just tonight. He's been a wonderful servant to New Zealand rugby and for him to go out at home tonight the way he's gone, it's only fitting because he's been a great coach."

Smith isn’t done with the All Blacks - he has two more Rugby Championship Tests to go - and you get the sense that Barrett, even though he’s now played in 57 Tests, is only just beginning.