All Blacks halfback Aaron Smith opens up about returning home. Video / allblacks.com
Follow live as head coach Ian Foster names the All Blacks side to face Argentina.
When you’re on the road, you can take all the steps imaginable to be as comfortable as possible. But sometimes certain conditions are just outside of your control.
It’s a lesson the All Blacks learned well during their travels in 2020 when they based themselves in Australia for the Tri-Nations, and one that is now paying off as they face months abroad.
Wherever the team goes, the talk around how bad the Covid-19 situation is in certain areas will always be loud. For some, they have families and friends in lockdown in Auckland, while the pandemic situation in some Australian states continues to be of concern.
But with plenty more on their plates as they look to add the Rugby Championship to their 2021 trophy collection, lock Scott Barrett said there’s only so much they are able to focus on.
“I think our support team, our medical team, our doctor – he keeps us informed of what we need to know,” Barrett said of not getting distracted by what’s going on in the world.
“I guess the boys probably learned from last year that if you waste your time and energy thinking about stuff that you can’t control, it can frustrate you and basically be a waste of energy.
“This group is pretty good at trusting the advice we’re getting and the plan the medicos are putting in front of us.”
Already on their travels the All Blacks have observed both a hard quarantine in Perth and a soft quarantine in Queensland, and are set to spend time in the United States, Wales, Italy, Ireland and France – all countries that are still reporting thousands of Covid-19 cases each day.
The situation also means they will be without lock Sam Whitelock and halfback Aaron Smith for at least the Australian leg of their expedition, with the quarantine situation in Australia and new arrivals to their families factoring into the equation.
Whitelock, who remained in New Zealand after Bledisloe II for the arrival of his latest baby, was expected to join the team for the final match of the Rugby Championship against South Africa, but would not have gotten out of quarantine with enough time to be match fit for the game. While he is expected to be with the team when they travel to the USA in October, Smith and his wife, Tegan, are expected to welcome a new addition to their family in mid-November, and Smith won’t be leaving New Zealand until then, if at all.
Smith hasn’t ruled out the prospect of dashing to Europe post the birth of his second child in November but told the Herald he could appreciate that fate was out of his hands, given the All Blacks final test of the year is against France in Paris on November 20.
While there are plenty of variable at play to the situation in both All Blacks camp and the world outside their bubble, for now, the focus is fixed on preparing for this weekend’s test against Argentina in Brisbane.
The All Blacks beat the Pumas 39-0 last time out in a game they displayed plenty of patience in, controlling things from start to finish in an impressive display.
While the team seems to be back to its best, lock Scott Barrett says they’re not taking anything for granted and are expecting an Argentinean team with “a little bit more edge” come Saturday night.
“I think this team’s always good at finding ways to get better,” Barrett said. “We just had our review and we weren’t short of areas that we can get better on so we’re focusing on them and looking to improve as we always do in the All Blacks.
“It’s acknowledging some of the stuff that we showed the Argies. We’re going to be a different team come this Saturday. They’ll have a look at their tape and they’ll present different pictures and probably turn up with a little bit more of an edge after the performance on the weekend.”