Blues coach McDonald lauds Barrett display after 'harsh' criticism

rugby09 April 2023 03:55| © Reuters
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Beauden Barrett © Gallo Images

Blues coach Leon McDonald praised Beauden Barrett after the All Blacks playmaker overcame a week in which his form was questioned to lead his side to a 54-17 Super Rugby Pacific win over the Melbourne Rebels on Saturday.

Barrett came under intense scrutiny after a disappointing performance in last week's loss to the Chiefs with McDonald calling the criticism "pretty harsh" after the Blues returned to winning ways.

"I thought his game was fantastic," said McDonald. "He's a quality player and every player has moments where they're not at their best in any sport.

"The sign of the champion that he is, he didn't flinch the whole week. I thought he was fantastic in the way he led our team, drove the strategy really well and he just got on with his business.

"I thought today he kicked really well. It wasn't easy conditions out there, it was quite greasy yet he still had the confidence to play which was really good to see as well."

Barrett played a part in several of his team's nine tries as the Blues put on a strong showing to claim a bonus point win, although the 31-year-old continued to struggle with his kicking from the tee with six misses from 10 attempts.

That mattered little as the Blues were utterly dominant in the second half and go into a bye week with McDonald upbeat as his team sit in fifth after seven rounds.

"We haven't been playing as well as we would like, so we had to turn the dial up in training and put some hard yards in just to make sure we finish this block on the right note and get the result that we needed," he said.

"I think the guys have earned a good rest and hopefully we can come back and take some of this momentum into the second half of the season because it's all to play for."