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Blues playmaker Beauden Barrett is expecting the Highlanders to throw the “kitchen sink” at his side when they clash in the Super Rugby Pacific quarter-finals this weekend.
Having already secured the top spot on the table, the Blues rested several key players last weekend, including Barrett. Still, they managed to claim a dramatic win over the Waratahs thanks to a Zarn Sullivan drop goal.
Raring to go
Barrett is rested and ready to add to his fine season thus far but does not expect it to be easy going against the lowest-placed qualifier.
“I think we’ll thrive being at home, feed off that energy in those high-pressure moments,” he told Stuff. “The boys are ready for it. We know the kitchen sink will be thrown at us this week, and we’ll throw it back. There’s so much excitement and anticipation.”
Coach Leon MacDonald’s men had a tremendous regular season, growing as it progressed, but veteran Barrett knows that all falls away in play-off rugby.
“We get a big tick for the regular season, and we can take confidence from that, knowing what we’re doing has worked well for us. But it won’t happen itself this weekend,” said Barrett.
“We never underestimate the Highlanders. You know you’re always going to get an arm-wrestle, we know how proud they are, and they’ve got a lot of good players and are a team that will fight to the end. We respect what’s coming.”
The All Black believes selecting a weaker team for their clash against the Waratahs had its risks, but it paid off and underlined how vital squad depth is.
“There was a temptation for us all to be involved in another game and keep the ball rolling, But you’ve just got to trust these decisions made by trainers and coaches,” he said. “On the flip side a lot of guys got the opportunity to travel to Sydney, wear the Blues jersey and put their hands up … and we’ve seen how important that squad depth has been this year.”
The 31-year-old commended Bryce Heem’s versatility whilst he felt for robust Caleb Clarke, who is currently sidelined with an injury.
“He is Mr Fixit,” says Barrett of Heem. “We’ve also got AJ Lam who’s been awesome when he’s played, and Telea is a freak. We’re lucky with our depth. It’s unfortunate for Caleb as I know how determined he is to get back in black, and we all see how hard he’s training. Hopefully we have him back soon.”
The article Super Rugby Pacific: Beauden Barrett expects the Highlanders to throw ‘the kitchen sink’ at the Blues appeared first on Planetrugby.com.