Otere Black has responded to critics who believe Beauden Barrett is becoming a liability while playing fullback for the Blues.
Barrett has been playing at No 15 all season to accommodate the selection of Black at flyhalf. Barrett hasn’t been as influential from the back as he would normally be when at No 10, but the selection has slipped under the radar without much fanfare because the Blues have won their opening three matches.
However, following sub-par performances from both Black at flyhalf and Barrett at fullback, which ultimately led to the Blues’ demise against the Crusaders in round five of Super Rugby Aotearoa, the pair has been heavily criticised by pundits, including leading UK writer Stephen Jones, who described the decision to play Barrett at No 15 as a ‘liability’.
‘New Zealand rugby is in danger of turning one of the most original talents in the history of the sport into a liability,’ Jones wrote for The Times, adding that Barrett’s ‘most significant contribution [a crucial kick out on the full] played a part in his team’s demise’.
Speaking to Stuff on Tuesday, Black slammed the critics, saying that his partnership with Barrett is one that can work despite what happened against the Crusaders on Saturday.
‘Beauden and I have got a really good combination going. Just because it was a bit quiet on the weekend, doesn’t mean we have to change a few things,’ he said.
‘People were saying good things about him not that long ago. So, we’re going to keep working hard and keep finding areas in our game to put the boys in better areas to attack from. It was a good learning for Beauden and I, but for the team as well.’
Black did, however, admit he’s willing to concede the No 10 jersey to Barrett if it is in the best interest of the team.
‘I feel like I’m playing some pretty good footy at the moment. But it’s not always down to that, it’s what has got to be the best for the team,’ he said.
‘That’s all out of my control, it’s up to me to perform well, week in, week out. Whatever is best for the team, I’ll do that.’
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