Beauden Barrett gets big tick from Ronan O'Gara

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O'Gara, who ended two Super Rugby winning campaigns with the Crusaders this year, told the Irish Examiner, "Even if the oval ball isn't your thing and you are just aboard because it's the World Cup, you're still watching this fella and thinking, 'who's yer man at 15 for the All Blacks? Jeez, he can play'.

 

"On any list of rugby players, you would happily pay money to watch, Barrett is top three," he said.

 

O'Gara said there had been enough about them to confirm the All Blacks as the form horse for the World Cup, and they had the knowhow and nous to prevail in a tight Test match struggle.

 

He said lock Scott Barrett had also been immense in the All Blacks' 23-13 win over South Africa.

 

"What separates great teams from good ones is the killer instinct the elite possess. That's where New Zealand put down a statement. No impact for the first 20 minutes, but off two half-chances across three minutes, they put 14 points on South Africa," he said.

 

O'Gara said that across the opening weekend the most significant result of all the pools was France's win over Argentina.

 

"Many a truth spoken in jest, but when the sporting director at La Rochelle said last Friday to me that France are poor, except at World Cups, he said a mouthful.

 

"People tend to forget just how bad the recent record of the national team has been and to bag a win, any sort of a win, in such a pivotal opening World Cup pool game lifts an enormous psychological burden off the French squad. They could face Wales in a World Cup quarter final now and I wouldn't bet against them.

 

"France are no longer used to winning. How much of a lift is that 23-21 victory on Saturday going to provide? Think of a manhole cover being lifted off your shoulders, and multiply that effect by 30 players. How liberating is that?" he said.

 

South Africa were not in as bad a position as Argentina but while South Africa could be difficult to play when they got ahead they had no answer to the All Blacks when they had to force it after halftime.

 

"They didn't have the answers, they kicked poorly, and were limited to the spark of Cheslin Kolbe on the right wing," he said.

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