All Blacks fullback Jordie Barrett has shrugged off media indifference in AFL-obsessed Melbourne in the lead-up to New Zealand’s Rugby Championship clash with Australia on Thursday to focus on defeating the Wallabies in front of their home crowd.
Jordie Barrett Photo: PHOTOSPORT
The game at Docklands Stadium doubles up as the opening encounter in this year’s Bledisloe Cup between the countries, with New Zealand aiming to win the trans-Tasman series for a 20th time in a row.
Attention in Melbourne, however, has largely been trained on the AFL’s preliminary finals on Friday and Saturday ahead of the Grand Final the following week, taking the focus off Barrett and his team mates.
“It’s the AFL finals week, so there’s plenty going on but more importantly we’ve got a Bledisloe to win,” Barrett said.
“We’ve freshened up, we’ve had a few days off, and we’ve got an Aussie side that’s hurting after their loss to South Africa (last week) so there’s a great feeling in camp.
“It was cool to understand a different game. It’s an interesting concept to grasp a whole city that’s mad on one sport.”
Despite a series of disjointed performances this year, New Zealand lead the Rugby Championship standings by a point from Australia, South Africa and Argentina going into the final two rounds of the southern hemisphere championship.
Barrett stressed the All Blacks would not be complacent in pursuit of another win over the Australians.
“Whether everyone is out there talking about us or not, we’ve got a job to do; we need to prepare accordingly,” he said.
“There’s an Australian side that hasn’t had a taste of the Bledisloe in a long time, so if we’re any short of our mark in terms of our preparation, we just open ourselves up, so we’re going to nail each day this week.”
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