Rugby-Shaken Barrett feared worst after shocking hit against Springboks

FILE PHOTO: Rugby Union - International Test - Wales v New Zealand - Principality Stadium, Cardiff, Wales, Britain - October 30, 2021 New Zealand's Beauden Barrett celebrates scoring a try Action Images via Reuters/Andrew Boyers/File Photo

(Reuters) - All Blacks flyhalf Beauden Barrett said he feared the worst after landing head-first from a terrible mid-air challenge against South Africa but that his team would continue to be courageous under the Springboks' high ball.

Barrett was upended by South Africa winger Kurt-Lee Arendse while rising to intercept a box kick and crashed heavily to the turf late in the 26-10 defeat at Mbombela Stadium last Saturday.

Arendse was red-carded and subsequently suspended for four matches.

"It was quite a big collision and I did think the worst instantly - especially when I was on the ground and - I can't remember who it was - told me to stay still," he said in a video released by the All Blacks.

"It wasn't until (the doctor) came on and asked me, 'Can you move your fingers? Your toes?' I was relieved to have passed those tests. I eventually sat up and was able to walk off and get on with it.

"But there was a fearful period there for a minute or so where you do think of the worst. It's quite scary when you go over backwards and you find yourself come down on your head and shoulders."

Building pressure with high kicks has long been part of South Africa's game-plan but it left All Blacks staff with a sour taste in Mbombela.

Arendse also clattered into Barrett's fullback brother Jordie in a mid-air contest but did not draw a penalty, triggering a complaint about the officiating from All Blacks coach Ian Foster.

The teams meet in their second Rugby Championship clash at Ellis Park on Saturday.

Barrett said the All Blacks must do more to protect their team mates under the high ball.

"It's something we expected from South Africa in terms of the high ball collision and contest," he said.

"I don't think they'll change anything.

"We'll continue to be courageous and get up.

"Our escorters have to .... legally stop that chaser from running a good line and allowing that mid-air collision."

(Reporting by Ian Ransom in Melbourne; Editing by Peter Rutherford)

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