All Blacks full-back Jordie Barrett has shrugged off media indifference in AFL-obsessed Melbourne ahead of Thursday’s New Zealand Rugby Championship clash with Australia to focus on beating the Wallabies in front of a home crowd.
The game at Docklands Stadium will also mark the opening game of this year’s Bledisloe Cup between the countries, with New Zealand aiming to win the Trans-Tasman series for a 20th straight season.
However, attention in Melbourne was largely focused on the AFL’s preliminary finals on Friday and Saturday ahead of the following week’s grand final, taking Barrett and his teammates out of focus.
“It’s AFL Finals week so it’s busy but more importantly we have to win Bledisloe,” Barrett said.
“We’ve freshened up, we’ve had a couple of days off and we have an Australian side who are injured after losing to South Africa (last week) so there’s a great feeling in camp.
“It was cool to understand another game. It’s an interesting concept to capture an entire city that’s crazy about a sport.”
Despite a string of disjointed performances this year, New Zealand top the Rugby Championship standings by a point ahead of Australia, South Africa and Argentina ahead of the final two rounds of the Southern Hemisphere Championship.
Barrett stressed that the All Blacks would not be complacent in their pursuit of another win over the Australians.
“Whether everyone out there is talking about us or not, we have a job to do; we need to prepare accordingly,” he said.
“There is one Australian team that hasn’t tried Bledisloe for a long time. So if we don’t hit our mark in terms of our preparation, we just open up, so we’re going to nail every day this week.”