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Cool customer Barrett handles NZ nerves

NZ NewswireNZ Newswire 22/11/2016 Angelo Risso


All Blacks lock Scott Barrett © Giuseppe Maffia/NurPhoto via Getty Images All Blacks lock Scott Barrett

He may be giving the impression he's been around all his life but All Blacks lock Scott Barrett says it's a totally different story on the inside.

The 23-year-old has impressed All Blacks coaches with his cool demeanour and composed play throughout the northern tour, appearing in each game and nabbing a try to boot.

Yet despite radiating that typical Barrett family calm, the Crusaders young gun told reporters he'd been living on the edge in his first Test campaign.

Overloaded with information for his debut in Chicago, the 197cm Barrett needed more than a week to settle down and is still coping with butterflies.

"The first week especially, I've never been so nervous in my life and just to play the game in Chicago was a relief, to put in a performance," Barrett said.

"I probably got a little bit caught up with all the stuff during the week, a lot of information."

Originally called into the All Blacks touring party as injury cover for the crocked Sam Whitelock, Barrett was retained by boss Steve Hansen after Luke Romano's premature departure.

Barrett said the World Cup-winning coach had helped to soothe the pre-match jitters in Chicago with a few well-placed words.

"The biggest thing that put me at ease before my first game was Steve coming up to me and saying, just forget everything that's happened during the week, that you've learned," Barrett said.

"Just go out there and play footy and back your instincts."

Brodie Retallick, vastly more experienced but not much older than Barrett at 25, said he and other All Blacks locks such as Whitelock looked to help Barrett wherever possible.

The 204cm Chiefs ace echoed Hansen's words to Barrett, saying professionals played better with a clutter-free mind.

"There's a lot to learn, everything's at a higher intensity in terms of where the team's at, with meetings, training," Retallick said.

"The less you can give them, the better clarity they can get and you can just go out and play rugby."

With Patrick Tuipulotu heading home for personal reasons on Sunday, Barrett is likely to retain his spot on the pine for Saturday's season-ending Test against France.

He said his body still felt fresh despite a long year with the Crusaders, provincial outfit Canterbury and the All Blacks.

"To be honest I didn't even expect to be on the tour, let alone play three games," Barrett said.

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