No team capable of living with NZ - Barnes

Beauden Barrett and Ryan Crotty (Getty Images)
Beauden Barrett and Ryan Crotty (Getty Images)

Cape Town - Former British and Irish Lions, and England, flyhalf, Stuart Barnes, said there is not a team on the planet capable of playing at the same pace or of living with the All Blacks.

According to the website, Barnes said England coach Eddie Jones seemed to be the only person 'not enveloped in an existential gloom' and he didn't have to play the All Blacks any time soon.

"Jones' thoughts are fixed on Hansen's team. The World Cup is the England head coach's obsession and he has rightly worked out that if his team can beat New Zealand in Japan they will win the World Cup. At the moment they are not so much 'miles away', as he admitted after England whitewashed Australia, as light years," Barnes said.

He added that after Lions coach Warren Gatland said he would not select a single player who didn't believe the Lions could win in New Zealand, he was in danger of having 'three blokes travelling or a planeload of lunatics'.

"The gulf between what were once the world's traditional rugby superpowers was neatly summed up by the two flyhalves on display in Durban.

"Beauden Barrett produced one of the most 'in your face' attacking displays the game has seen. Making tries for others, scoring another pair for himself, he wreaked havoc, unleashed in a manner unprecedented. He is happy to play flat like the great Mark Ella did all those years ago, but Barrett runs with a speed that would have left David Campese for dead.

"Barrett is no longer the future of the game. He is the living embodiment of New Zealand's supremacy," he said.

By comparison, Springbok coach Allister Coetzee had ditched Elton Jantjies to recall Morne Steyn.

"If nobody has thrived quite like Barrett in the hurly burly of the gainline, it is difficult to remember a flyhalf who played further away from it.

"Steyn sits almost out of sight from the gainline and out of range of those who would pressurise him. In stately splendour he spiralled some superb kicks into the corner in the first half while New Zealand were exorcising their overambitious demons with misplaced pass after misplaced pass," Barnes said. But it was only a matter of time before the passes stuck.

While England had time to develop their game and ponder a strategy, New Zealand also had time to prepare.

"But that is for the more distant future. More immediately Jones owes the All Blacks a vote of thanks. The demolition of the Springboks on South African soil has thrown Coetzee's team into crisis.

"South Africa will be Europe-bound soon enough but other than that, they no longer have a clue where they are going. New Zealand have knocked the sense out of them. England can go for the kill next month, although I suspect these Springboks are already rugby's dead men," he said.

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