Yes the Springboks did beat the All Blacks in New Zealand but let’s be honest the game that everybody had circled from the beginning of the year was Ireland v New Zealand. It’s only a couple of weeks away now and so there’s a couple of key battles we should look at. First off we’ll look at Sexton v Barrett, Beauden that is.
Gareth Mason beat me to the punch which is great as I can put his video in here (with his permission) and then let you know my thoughts below.
Got to agree that they are both wonderful players. However I need to disagree on a couple of points. I‘m not surprised the Barrett has more tries from less starts because of two factors. First is the style of play of the All Blacks and how they go for tries from turnover ball. This means that Barrett isn’t necessarily in the first receiver position and has more space to attack. Also with his pace he is just deadly given space. Secondly is that Barrett hasn’t played all his rugby at fly-half. Unlike Sexton, Barrett has had plenty of game time from fullback allowing him again more space but also to enter the attack where he sees fit.
However there is an element of horses for courses or more to the point the right man for your game style. Sexton isn’t as individually dangerous with ball in hand but pull the strings of a complex attack plan. You often see him wrapping around the second receiver and picking out the right option.
Also whilst Barrett’s tactical kicking has greatly improved over the last 3 seasons Sexton is still a master of the art. I’ll probably take flack if I come down on either side for this one however if we are talking about execution under pressure we saw in France this year Sexton’s ability to do that. Due to how good the All Blacks are it’s rare that we see Barrett is that same situation so we will have to see if he ever has to pull-off the same kind of control of a game.
The one area that we will have agreement on though is goal kicking. Sexton is one of the best in the world. Barrett on the other hand can be a wonderful kicker most days but he has too many off days to be in that top rank of international kickers.
So for me it’s about what style do you want from your 10? Remember fly-halves don’t have to be the designated place kicker. For me the question is do you ask someone else to kick goals? If so then Barrett is your man otherwise I’d go for Sexton.
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