WELLINGTON, New Zealand (AP) — The first trio of brothers to be selected in the same All Blacks team — the Barretts — honed their skills in backyard battles which featured arcane rules, tears and privileges of seniority.
Flyhalf Beauden Barrett, lock Scott Barrett and utility back Jordie Barrett — the imposed-upon youngest — spoke in Auckland on Monday about pedigree and sibling rivalry as they prepared for the first test against the British and Irish Lions.
Four trios of brothers have played for the All Blacks in the past. The Brownlies — Maurice, Cyril and Laurie — played for New Zealand in the 1920s but never all in the same team. The Nicholls brothers — Marcus, Harry and Harold — were All Blacks in the same decade but not the same side.
Most recently the Whitelocks — Sam, George and Luke — played for New Zealand but not simultaneously.
The Barretts made history when they were named last week in the All Blacks' 33-man squad for the Lions series and have some small chance of making a more exclusive place in history if they are to be included in the same team during the three-test series.
The brothers attribute their collective success to pedigree; father Kevin "Smiley" Barrett was a long-serving and famous player for New Zealand's Taranaki province and mother, Robyn, was a noted athlete.
"Mum was a pretty talented athlete and they all say the speed comes from Mum and the size and workrate would come from Dad," Beauden Barrett said. "I guess it's a good mixture, sitting here today.
"Dad was always a forward and worked hard in the pack. We probably got our flair from Mum."
Beauden said a learned work ethic had also been part of the brothers' success. They grew up on the family farm in Taranaki province, a dairy farming region in the central North Island, and found time for sport only when chores were done.
"If you live on a farm you appreciate you can work countless hours and there's always work to be done," Beauden Barrett said. "We saw Mum and Dad doing that and coming home to cook us dinner and get us ready for school.
"If you relate that to your rugby, it's always striving to be the best you can be, and that is endless as well."
The brothers developed a typical sibling rivalry in which youngest brother Jordie was at the target of most jokes. He had to accept the nicknames Baby or Bub, though recently the names have become more sophisticated.
"We played all sorts in the backyard but mostly cricket and I was always just trying to match these guys," Jordie said. "The rugby games I was in tears most times and couldn't really participate.
"No one was supervising and I think I was hung out to dry there."
Beauden said the rivalry may have hardened the brothers, and deepened their companionship.
"Mum would call for dinner and it would always go 10 minutes extra," he said. "It would be most likely him (Jordie) flying at you, getting up crying and he would come back that little bit harder next time."