"Marcus Smith, Ben Earl" - All Blacks Captain Scott Barrett Picks Out England Threats Ahead of First Test - Ruck

“Marcus Smith, Ben Earl” – All Blacks Captain Scott Barrett Picks Out England Threats Ahead of First Test

Scott Barrett is primed and ready for his first Test as All Blacks captain, as New Zealand host England at the Forsyth Barr Stadium this evening in Dunedin. The lock was appointed to the role by the new All Blacks coach Scott Robertson, with the former Crusaders coach entrusting his previous club leader with the armband.

Barrett has been surveying his opponents and picked out England’s linchpin Marcus Smith as a threat to keep weary off. The last time England and the All Blacks met, Smith was instrumental in leading his side to comeback for a draw, as Steve Borthwick’s men scored three tries in the final eight minutes in Twickenham, back in the Autumn of 2022. Barrett recognised the Harlequin as a pivotal figure, and was impressed by England’s overall performance from a fortnight ago in Japan.

“From what I’ve seen from England, against Japan, they were quite dynamic actually. They’ll still have their DNA of wanting to take you on up front. But I think, with Marcus Smith, Ben Earl, athletes across the park and you know, we’ve got to anticipate a very dynamic England side.”

Amidst all of the anticipation and expectation on the new All Blacks captain, Barrett is reminding himself to savour the moment when he leads New Zealand out this evening at the home of the Highlanders. Whilst there is an untold amount of pressure upon the shoulders of Barrett and his head coach Scott Robertson, the lock will make sure to take a moment to relish in the accomplishment of captaining the All Blacks.

“Yeah, I think that’s what I’m reminding myself of, is to enjoy the occasion. Yeah, never losing the fact of why we play the game, and that’s that enjoyment. So I’m sure when I’m lining up for the anthem, there’ll be a moment of sort of taking a smile, and you’re really getting excited to play rugby for 80 minutes for New Zealand.”

Scott Barrett of New Zealand is tackled by Ox Nche of South Africa during the Rugby World Cup Final match between New Zealand and South Africa at Stade De France, Paris, France on 28 October 2023 (Photo: Micah Crook/PPAUK)

Given the prestigious position bestowed to Barrett for this afternoon’s match, the lock has been inundated with advice from All Blacks of the past. Whilst Sam Cane is not available for the match against England, the former New Zealand captain has been around the camp on the build up to the first Test of the two match series, and has offered plenty of guidance to Barrett.

With such an excellent support network alongside his two All Black brothers, Scott expressed how Beauden and Jordie Barrett have also been amongst the helpful hands for the lock’s first run at the helm of the side.

“Beauden and Sam Cane’s been great in the environment. Ardie (Savea), Jordie (Barrett) Codie Taylor, guys across the park that have played a few matches between them. So you’re leaning off their experiences and I guess, honing in on my strengths and what I’m going to do soon.”

“I guess coming back to the, you know, sense of energy and that’s been great in the environment. Ardie (Savea) certainly has a lot of presence. When he speaks, his words are pretty heavy. So it’s great to have him on the team.