Barrett eyes another potential tussle with Sexton

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During their 15 weeks on the road, they had achieved so much, and with two games left, against Ireland and France, they wanted to finish in a way that reflected their efforts during a unique time in All Blacks' rugby, he said.

 

Should he be given the starting role at first five-eighths against Ireland, it would be another chance to play against a player of similar longevity in the game, Johnny Sexton – both of them recently posting 100 Tests for their country.

 

It was a challenge to play against such players, he said.

 

"He's a very good player, he's so influential for their team and he's all class so, of course, you love these match-ups. You don't get too caught up in it but you do appreciate who your opponent is and the team you're playing," he said.

 

"I admire his play, his longevity and how influential he is. He has great skillsets. Probably one of the strengths of his game is his ability to get second touches and always be a threat. There's a lot to admire about him and the way he plays.

 

"In terms of his mentality, he's a competitor. He loves to play, he loves to win, he loves to get amongst the physicality. He's a huge part of their team and how they play," he said.

 

 

Barrett said what he had seen of Ireland recently reflected their hard work and that they were a united side who had become a hard team to break down over 80 minutes.

 

"I think most of the guys in their squad are pretty fit and ready to go, so they are a very strong team," he said.

 

Barrett said his time in Japan rugby had allowed him to 'get back into the driver's seat' and enjoy more consistent game time at first five-eighths.

 

"It was a great experience for me, I came back very excited and physically in good shape and felt really good," he said.

 

With more responsibilities in his personal life and the team, he wanted to make the most of it.

 

"The last 10 years has gone very fast. I feel like I've still got a long way to go and still feel young and energetic and really driven to be better so I'm really enjoying my footy and my role in this team," he said.

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